Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Writers Block and Other Excuses

It's been a week since I told you all that I'm not perfect.  I can only assume you're back this week in hopes of more of the sordid little details I let slip every now and again.  I can't blame you.  I would be too if I didn't already know them all.

If that's what you're here for, you might want to come back next week.  I can't promise any scandal or emotional stories this week, because it's been a week relatively free from emotional or physical trauma (then again, it is only Wednesday), but you never know.  I suppose you'll just have to keep reading to find out.

For those of you who have known me for a while, you know I used to be a writer.  Apparently, I even used to be pretty good at it.  I say "used to be," because I don't feel that I've qualified as much of a writer for quite some time.  Doesn't the saying go "a writer writes"?  Well, I haven't really written lately.  And by lately, I mean years.

Then again, that was one of the points of starting yet another blog.  To write.  To maybe find the voice that I lost somewhere along the way.  And, shockingly, I've written a total of 12 actual blog posts (this will be lucky 13).  True, I have spent the past several years stocking up on some excellent source material, but still.  It's something.

So, to be fair to myself (someone has to be), I guess I've been a writer for at least the past 10 weeks.  "Writer" here is a loosely used phrase, seeing as blogs are often considered to be the bane of the literary world, a dark mark on the highbrow sensibilities of the literarti.  I can't claim that I disagree.  This blog is probably only one step above the journals I kept when I was a teenager, with the major difference being I don't hide it under my bed and I no longer have an all-consuming crush on Ryan Beal.  If Facebook is to be believed, and it usually is, Ryan is currently a tattooed and pierced delinquent, whereas I am an obviously highly successful divorcee doing an astounding job of being an adult.

But we'll give this poor excuse for a public soapbox a break and say that yes, I am writing.  So long as we're being magnanimous, I've also written some recent love poems on the bathroom mirror.  It's not a conventional medium, and I don't expect wide publication, but I think they've been received well by their intended audience.

Honestly, it's a start (the blog and the poems).  I hope.  If you'll remember back to last week, you'll recall that I'm a renowned perfectionist.  This makes being an out-of-practice writer extraordinarily difficult.  Nothing is good enough, because nothing is as good as it used to be.  (Does this all sound familiar?  It does to me.)  I even respond with thoughts of "really?" when people tell me that they like my blog.  

But, like the rest of my life, I guess it's time to start trying.

And, like the rest of my life, it's not easy starting over.

Not to brag, but writing used to be easy for me.  The words were always there.  I wrote everywhere: at home, on the road, at work, at school, at church.  I wrote in notebooks.  I wrote on the computer.  I wrote on bulletins and scraps of paper.  I wrote in the margins of my class notebooks.  I, basically, wrote.

I had ideas.  I had images.  I had turns of phrase that delighted me.  I had titles and character names and backstories and plot twists.

These days, I'm lucky I can come up with a blog every week, much less a sappy note on the mirror.  To tell the truth, the only reason I'm writing about writing this week is that I didn't know what to write about.  Brilliant, I know.

It's not even that I have the quintessential "writer's block."  There's no block.  There's nothing to block.  It's more of a writer's wasteland.  The words are gone.  The ideas are gone.  The characters who used to spring into my mind, as fully-formed as Athena, are gone.

And I don't know where they went.  I don't even know what happened to make them leave.  It certainly wasn't just that I was unhappy.  I had written plenty when I was most deeply unhappy: great, angry, resentful, love-sick poems and pages upon pages of my meanderingly unfinished novel.

I think it was that I stopped feeling.  (Is that a hint of emotional over-sharing?  I think it might be!)  I stopped feeling deeply unhappy in favor of drinking and bad decisions and distracting myself from said unhappiness.  I'd like to note that I am exceptionally good at distracting myself from my own unhappiness and that numbness, for me, can be surprisingly easy to accomplish.  Just have a few drinks every night, pick up an exorbitant number of new hobbies, and forget that there must be more than this provincial life.  You, or at least I, can coast along on that for years at a time, provided the love of your life doesn't come along and completely wreck the illusion.

It's not surprising that the mass exodus of my creativity followed the forced numbing of any real emotions.  Emotional death is an obviously inhospitable climate for ideas.  There's nothing to latch onto, nothing to stimulate or grow.  The wasteland metaphor comes back into play here.  I willingly created a mental desert and wondered why I couldn't write.  

So what now?  I'm self-proclaimedly happy and free, feeling all the normal range of adult emotions again, starting my life over, etc, etc.  Where are the words?  Where is the ease of creativity?  I'm ready and waiting here!

No?  I have to work for it like nearly every other tortured writer on the planet?

That's hardly fair.

But hey, that's life.  It's not fair and it's not easy anymore.  "Suck it up, buttercup," as my boyfriend is so fond of telling me.  He's also rather fond of telling me I should write more.

I'm trying, alright?  I'm writing a blog.  I write the occasional poem.  I may even sometimes feel the stirrings of vague creative potential.  

It's not War and Peace, but I guess it's better than a blank page.

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