I have felt like a hybrid car desperately in need of a charge this winter. It seemed like no matter what I did, I could not get off the starting line to move forward in my writing. I’d parked in bad metaphor land. Maybe I attempted too much. I did NaNo while working on another novel and teaching college classes. Not exactly a sane undertaking.
Maybe I had lost my love for the craft. No, I still got excited about prose, just not mine. I was doing all the things I’d done before. I exercised regularly, and I ate right. I met with my writer’s group every week, and I forced my butt into the chair every day regardless of whether anything productive came out of it. And little did.
I understood underlying causes for my funk. My father’s ongoing health battles, my sons’ health issues and the oldest one’s upcoming court date (for anyone new to the blog, he didn’t do anything wrong-a shoplifter stabbed him.) were enough to keep me stressed. Trying to sell two houses, and buy a third, are adding to the insanity line we’re teetering across. Still, I’m a type A personality so this sort of thing usually doesn’t send me to the straitjacket. I finally realized I was worrying so much about why I was in the rut that I wasn’t able to get out of it. Anyone else ever do that?
We attend the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation, Inc. (OWFI) Conference every May, and there are contests associated with it. My writer’s group begins prepping our pieces for the contest in October and hope to have them ready to mail off by the mail deadline of February 1. Somewhere in January, I realized I had left my funk behind and hadn’t even thought about it. I’d been so busy and so focused on the contest entries that I had no time to worry about what had caused my writing rut. Now, my entries are all polished and ready to mail, and I’m ready to settle in for a winter of total content writing anything and everything I want. Not once will I think about why I quit for a time and wonder why.
How do you recharge your battery after a down time?
Dallas Ivan Davis
He was, he told us, a simple soldier,
always obeyed his commander,
looked out for his men.
“A soldier does that,” he said.
He never told us –
about the mine that went off
and the man left behind.
He never told us – –
how he crawled across that mine field
to retrieve his man and carry him out.
He never told us,
about the cost
of what a simple soldier
Thanks, Tasha for The Versatile Blogger Award. It’s sweet and fun.
The Rules for The Versatile Blogger Award:
- Thank and link back to the person that gave you the award.
- Share seven things about yourself.
- Pass the award to fifteen bloggers that you think deserve it.
- Lastly, contact all of the bloggers that you’ve picked for the award.
I’m headed out on my tour for the fifteen blogs I want to award.
Seven things about me: 1. My favorite holiday is Halloween. 2. I love teaching teenagers. 3. I’m jazzed by the possibilities of a new story. 4. I love to work out. (Sick I know) 5. I have an interesting work background – everything from butchering meat to running a swimming pool to painting houses to teaching. 6. I love Mexican food. 7. Someday, I’m retiring to the ranch with the horses, the dogs, and a lot of peace and quiet.
Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott
A hero of mine, Nancy Pickard, co-authored a book called Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path. I’m reading it for the second time because like most writers I’ve hit a rock in the path, and I need guidance. According to the book, I’m at the unhappiness stage. Little overachiever that I am, I’m taking this one over the top.
I’m not unhappy; I’m flat-out miserable. No good reasons. Unless you count, multiple rejections balanced against only a second place win in a query contest, or my inability in the face of teaching six days a week to produce even the most mundane of drivel. Be thankful, I tell myself that you’re producing anything at all. At least you’re not blocked. Really? The only difference between a blocked writer and me is that they’ve acknowledged it. I’m in full denial and thus, keep plugging away at my drivel.
It’s been several years since I read it so it’s like reading it for the first time. The chapter threw me an epiphany with one line: “Unhappiness, to one degree or another, is where all creativity begins.” My YA novel is in revisions and by that I mean constant revisions, and I’m sick and tired of it. So, I’m taking a break while it is making the rounds and decided to start another one.
Unhappiness and creativity. I’m not quite to the newlywed phase of a work. Currently, it’s just scattered scenes with the characters as I get to know them. Which is why I’m still unhappy. I could stop. Quit. I tell myself that every day. Yet, I don’t. And I don’t perceive a time when I will. Because writing and the misery that accompanies it are as essential to me as eating right and exercising. Of course, when I’m in the zone, I don’t eat right or eat period sometimes. And my exercising becomes manic. I pound the treadmill because it opens up the doors of my creativity.
I highly recommend this book to every writer. Not only because it will validate every stage of the creative process but because it will remind you that for the pain and agony of the hard times, there is a wonderful place you will eventually arrive at. In that place, rejections are just slips of paper, and every word you write is a win.
Are you “unhappy” in your writing?
Thanks to Tangynt for the award for my blog. Let’s spread that appreciation. If I’ve tagged you, here’s your appreciation award. Post it to your blog and then select fifteen writers whose blogs blow your mind.
The beginning of the school year is always chaos, but I knew this year would be worse than usual. We’re transitioning to the high school with our ninth graders, so after fifteen years in one place I packed up and moved across to the high school. I’d forgotten how time-consuming putting a new room together can be. It has left me feeling totally unprepared for the school year.
Adding to that, I’m finally pursuing my dream of teaching at the college level. This semester I’ll be teaching Comp I. I’m in heaven, but it meant all that beginning of school chaos for two different teaching jobs. I literally had lists of things to do for each job, and I was going from early morning until late at night. I say all this to explain my complete loss of writer neuroses this week.
Last Sunday at the encouragement of one of my critique partners, I submitted my YA novel query to a contest for an online conference that we had signed up for. After everything that had happened, I had no time to attend those sessions. Probably because of that I didn’t even remember the conference or the contest until writer’s group met. We were busy getting the anthology we were editing put to bed so when it was mentioned in passing, I immediately forgot it.
Imagine my surprise two days later when I came home to emails from critique buddies congratulating me. I was a bit punch drunk with exhaustion and couldn’t quite make sense of this bit of news. When I found my way to the site, I was astounded to discover that my query had tied for second place in the contest. I’m still pinching myself today. Did it really happen or am I going to wake in the morning to find it was all a great dream? Sigh. Now that my memory’s back so are my writer’s neuroses.