Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Breakfast in America

Playing in the background: The smoochie bird. I'm not sure what kind of bird it is - possibly a bluejay - but it has a call that sounds like "smoochie smoochie smoochie smoochie smoochie."

Saturday in Texas. The day dawns wet and cloudy. It's been raining off and on since the middle of the night, as those of us who are easily startled by thunder boomies can attest. I've crawled out of bed, into some clothes, put in the ear drops (I have an ear infection), meditated and fixed the all-American breakfast - bacon and flapjacks. (Eggs would be overkill.) I've had some coffee, Joan is still asleep, when she does get up there's plenty of food, and the house is nice and quiet. Perfect time to get some writing done.


I don't know what's wrong with me these days. Well, actually I could give you a list, starting just incidentally with being unemployed, but as far as writing goes I don't know what's wrong with me. I haven't been able to string two sentences together in weeks. Which is a pity because if there's ever a perfect time to write, it's during a period of unemployment - long stretches of unstructured time, occasional annoying visits to to make sure you haven't missed anything - but otherwise perfect. I'fact last time I was unemployed (and yes, I'm appalled there was even a last time) I wrapped up Book Two and started Book Three. I even remember one particularly nifty three day weekend where I knocked out eighty something pages, which is even better if I don't then delete three-quarters of them the following day, as I sometimes do.

(Course I was also manic as hell, and it finally got a chance to show up because a. I wasn't working ten hour days and then coming home to write, b. I wasn't drinking anymore, either and c. the binge eating was pretty much under control thanks to OA. I'fact if it hadn't been for that particular lapse in workingdom I might have gone on undiagnosed for months or years longer, saving myself thousands in therapy and prescriptions, while the disorder continued to wreak havoc on my life and damaged my brain even more than it probably already is. Oh well. You gots to take der good mit der evil, as Lars von Trier would say.)

But here I am. Sober, binge-free, medicated, ridiculously calm compared to the swooping ups and downs of anxiety I had when I was working, and all set to dive into something big and complex in between looking for work, which, if one is honest, does not really take eight hours a day in spite of what those nice "how to land a job" guides tell you. And I am churning out absolutely nothing. This, for the record, sucks.

I even have a couple of works in progress. There's Book the Third of Mindbender, Soulmender, which is basically done but there's some denouement to wrap up at the end and explain What Happens To All The Major Players (and perhaps more important, who killed the sinister detective, because frankly, I'd like an answer to that one). There's the whole getting Mindbender published thing, which doesn't take concentrated writing but (oddly like looking for a job) does take a willingness to hunt down agents, write letters, follow up and be a pest in a nice way. And finally there's No Accounting for Taste, the sequel to No Accounting For Reality. During the last NaNo-go-round I got about a third of the way into this one; go back to November and check out some of these NaNo posts by way of example. So there's stuff I could be doing. I'm just not doing it.

What happens is this: I sit down at my trusty laptop (I love my laptop, in case I have not said that lately - I don't know what I'd do without my laptop). I open a file. Pick a file, any file. I read through the last little bit of whatever I was working on. I add a sentence. Maybe two. And then I get distracted. The TV is too loud or there's some new game on Facebook I just have to try or maybe instead of doing this I should be knocking out more query letters or more recently, I need to check Monster or Craigslist or Simply Hired, name your favorite, or there's a recruiter to call, a chore to do, a floor to sweep, dusting to accomplish. I go back to the file. I glare at it. Then I get fed up, quit, close the file (sometimes without even saving it) and flop down on the couch, watching whatever happens to be on the Discovery Channel and cursing myself for being a lightweight. Obviously I can't do this. Obviously I was fooling myself all this time. Obviously I've let everyone down again (though, as Dashiell Hammett allegedly said, "It's not like they're gonna miss you, Lily.") I've done this pretty much every day for weeks.

So is this that thing they call writer's block? For years I've been convinced it doesn't exist but I'm starting to believe in it now. Anyway, it's very frustrating. But perhaps there is hope. I did, after all, manage to knock out this entire blog post - and Joan is still asleep.


Jen said...

Joan is now awake. She says, "You write really well for someone with writer's block. And thanks for breakfast, it's yummy."

Jen said...
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