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

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Talk Thursday: Drought

Yes, I know we're in a drought. It's about the only thing they talk about on KEOM radio's Texas State Network News, after they get finished talking about Governor Goodhair running for President. (About which I know very little because I refuse to listen. The reporter gets as far as, "Governor Per--." and I've changed the station to the 24-hour classical channel.) I don't exactly need reminding. My entire backyard is dead, even the very stubborn asparagus. I'm doing what I can to keep the trees alive, and the front yard still has a little green here and there, but pretty much this is the year that lawn care became moot. A neighbor of ours is losing his magnolia tree. It's falling down, limb by limb, in a spectacle that's both ghastly and heartbreaking. And us North Texans are really getting off easy compared to the rest of the state. Lots of farmers have lost their entire crop, cattle are dying all over the place and there are wildfires - of course there are wildfires - chomping through all the dead vegetation, taking out homes and businesses and just in general destroying things.

So it seems kind of ridiculous to use up my allotment of cubic Internet inches whining about a drought of the mind, but that's just what I'm gonna do. You see, while y'all weren't looking, I went and wrote another book. Okay, some of you were looking. That's okay, I forgive you. That makes a total of five (count them! Five!) since I started this blog. This last one is called Taken by Storm, and it was all about the daughter of the heroine in one of the earlier books realizing she has some of the same problems Mom has, as well as some new and different crises that Mom never got around to. This one was remarkably short (72k words), definitely YA, and kind of a departure from my usual stuff. What's more, my mother liked it. No, she really did. And I started writing query letters and I started getting the usual rejection slips and then--

Nothing. I dried up. It was like somebody pulled the plug, and all the good words went straight down the drain.

When you're used to writing for about an hour a day, every day, at home or at a Starbucks or at Afrah or maybe the back room of Half Price Books, and you're used to churning out a page or two at least, and you're used to having two or three projects going at once, all in different stages of done-ness, and everything just comes to a screeching halt one day, it tends to throw you off your stride a little bit. The first thing I did, after a few days had gone by and the words still weren't coming, was panic. Oh dear God that I don't even believe in, what if this was forever? What if I'd said everything I had to say, and told the tales I had to tell, and the rest was just silence? What would I do for the rest of my life? Where would I go when my brain needed a vacation? Would I have to start doing drugs? Play video games? Find a real-life version of being wired, like in Strange Days?

Well, that's why I write. I dunno why anybody else does.

As the days trickled by and the words still didn't come back, I got depressed. Easy to do if you're bipolar - in fact it happens on a regular basis, like day follows night - but it's easy to forget that, too, when you're in the middle of it. So I moped around and spent ridiculous amounts of time trolling the CNN chat boards - yes, I know I'm not supposed to do that - and just in general felt sorry for myself. Washed up at the age of 42. Done in by a drought of the mind and left to wander the earth as one of the walking dead. Well, only about 40 more years and I can die for real, I guess. Obviously I'm not gonna have anything to show for having been around, so I might as well just be quiet and not upset anybody. I started to avoid the computer during my regular writing time. I started eating sugar again (yes, I know, don't lecture me -- I'm getting back off it; my psychiatrist was livid) and just in general did everything I wasn't supposed to do. Except swimming. I kept swimming.

Then, a couple of days ago, something happened. I dunno why, but I sat down at the computer and wrote a couple of pages. This morning I did it again, though it was only about half as much. Who knows if this is the rain returning after La Nina or just a rogue low-pressure zone; the result is the same--productivity. And perhaps the first little glimmer of hope that things might possibly get better.

(Attention literary agents: This would be the perfect time to throw me a bone. I'm soft-spoken, housebroken, won't bite and have had all my shots.)

So we'll see what happens. If things keep getting better, great. If they don't--well, let's just not go there. Meantime I hope it keeps raining in North Texas. I hope we have a hurricane, in point of fact, and a wall of water floats away a DART transit bus, just like last time.

Especially if I lay off the sugar.

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