Articles tagged with: writing

I’m a Monster

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It has been nearly a year since my last post. No book reviews, no clever memes, no updates on ongoing projects. Nothing. Silence. Maybe you wonder why. Maybe you didn’t even notice. Either way, I’m here today to talk about the void that has become my life these last eighteen or so months.

The last thing I wrote and published was Boys Don’t Cry, a new adult romance novel I released in September 2015. That novel was the last novel I finished. All other projects, save for the occasional short story, have come to a standstill. Much of the time my many ongoing projects simply stare at me when I open their files, cursor blinking in cold accusation, and the worst part is I’m not even sure why.

It feels like something strange happened to my mind, something I don’t even know how to put into words. Brain fog? Creativity parasite? That is terrifying because putting things into words has always sort of been my… well… thing. If I’m angry with you, the best way for me to express those feelings has always been to write them down. If I’m happy, my jubilance is best expressed in writing. Depression, torment, elation, excitement… it has always been my greatest joy to put such emotions to paper, just as I have always been happiest writing stories and poems. For decades, I pumped out so many words, both meaningless and meaningful. Short stories, poems, novels, essays, papers…

Now, I feel as though I have no words at all. It’s taking just about everything I have inside me to write this blog post, and I’m already judging every single word so hard I’ve considered hitting delete at least nine times since I started writing it.

Where did the words go? Why can’t I make them come out anymore? Have they abandoned me? Am I being melodramatic? Considering how much of my life revolves around words, this is a distressing turn of events, and it feels incredibly dramatic to me… especially as it’s gone on so long. The simple things don’t seem to be working at all. Just sitting down and letting the words flow doesn’t seem to work. Plotting and planning don’t seem to help. I sit down and attempt to write something every single day, but words elude me. It’s not just a matter of judging the words I’ve written, it’s an issue of no words actually getting on the screen/paper. Struggling with the order in which they should arrive sometimes when they do actually attempt to come out.

Is it some kind of mental issue? Depression? Melancholia? Late-life attention deficit disorder.

I don’t know the answer, but I feel like I’m drowning. I feel like… a monster, or rather a ghost of who I used to be when words made sense.

The Writing Life: Punching Dragons in the Face

in the…in the… in the… OH RATS! I’ll never finish this song!

It’s been months since I finished a project. Nine of them, actually. Nine long months of banging my head against the desk and keyboard like Don Music on Sesame Street, fretting about everything, and worrying my brain no longer understands how to string words into meaningful sentences I can live with well enough to put them out into the world.

Which isn’t to say I haven’t been writing words, because I have. In some capacity every single day I put words on a page. Sometimes a whole lot of them, other times just a few, and then I cock my head as I’m reading back over them and feel overwhelmed by the absolute awfulness of every single one of them.

Overly dramatic? Maybe. I am, after all, banging my head like that lunatic from Sesame Street, so that says something about the level of melodrama I pursue on a regular basis, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating.

Come on, punch me! I dare you!

I want to scream. I want to punch things (other than the keys.) Big things. Like goliaths and ogres and dragons. I want to punch a dragon in the face because some part of me is sure that would solve all my problems, and I dutifully ignore the other half of my brain that insists angering a mythological megabeast is only going to make things worse. Though at this point I’m convinced things couldn’t get much worse, which is either the return of general optimism or a sure sign I’ve completely lost my mind.

I have gone through this before. Endless months where writing feels like a useless impossibility, and I always come out of it feeling stronger and more focused then ever. I know when I snap out of this I will throw the hammer down on all seven (oh wait, are there nine of them… shit!) of the half to three-quarter finished projects glaring at me from Scrivener and telling me I’m not worthy.

But I’m getting older, and life has been really difficult these last three years. Cue whining: Instability, uncertainty, responsibilities I never asked for, but couldn’t ignore even if I wanted to. All of it–dragging me down. This long trek through the mire is the hardest one I’ve ever faced, and I feel very real fear at times I won’t come out of this spiral. What if I can’t finish the things I’ve started? What if I can’t start anything else…ever? What if I let everyone, including myself and my family and the Dalai Lama and… what if I let the world down? And then I realize quite seriously the world probably doesn’t much care what I do one way or the other. The world is busy trying to sustain itself and take care of its own problems.

I am MELODRAMATICA!

I warned you several paragraphs back I was super melodramatic. Melodramatica is my X-Men name, but knowing that doesn’t change the way I feel. Worse is knowing I am not alone. Almost every writer I know has gone through this at some point in their life. Some of them go through it all the time, and others never come out if it once they fall into the abyss.

I guess that’s the danger of identifying ourselves by the passions that drive us. For as long as I can remember, I have been a writer, a storyteller. It is the only thing I’ve ever been able to imagine for myself, the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do and be, and if I can’t write what’s left?

Clearly I need to get out of my own head for a while. I need a break from the pressure I put on myself, but that part of me that’s sure of imminent life failure is relentless. Always there whispering in my ear, “You won’t finish this, or that, or the other thing because you are not good enough. You’re a fraud.”

At first I didn’t even know why I was writing this. I know no one else can fix this for me; I don’t even know if I can fix it for me. The thing is, if I don’t come to terms with this it’ll keep festering inside me like a disease, and I actually won’t be able to do what needs to be done. I’ll go on wallowing in that very melodramatic way of mine until all hope is lost.

So, this is me punching dragons in the face, tearing down walls and saying, “NO!” to the little voice that says I can’t do this.

I can do it, and I will do it. In fact, I’m going to go do it write now. See what I did there? Ahem, I know. I need to be stopped.

The Writing Life: The Vast Void

As many of you know I’ve been telling stories in some capacity for over thirty years now, which at times feels super overwhelming because some part of me thinks maybe I should have more to show for my efforts. Then I think about George R.R. Martin, and I feel okay about my accomplishments. Which isn’t to say I’m badmouthing GRRM, or I think I’m in any way, shape, or form comparable to him, because I’m not. I just understand the whole, “Sometimes it takes me years to finish my projects,” aspect of his plight. Because the same thing happens to me sometimes, and it always has.

Into the Void

For as long as I can remember I have fallen into these vast voids where I have a million really great ideas, novels more or less completely written inside my head, but when I sit down to work on them nothing comes out. And if things do come out, they aren’t the way I want them, and I can’t figure out where I’m going wrong, or how I can fix them, so I get frustrated and ragey and want to throw my keyboard at a wall while screaming very dramatically to the heavens. I like being overly dramatic most of the time because in retrospect it’s very silly, but when it comes to writing I hate that it makes me feel that way.

smeagol and deagolI just want to write. It’s more or less the only thing in the world I have ever wanted to do, so when I get stuck in that capacity it’s very frustrating. The nasty little voices (who pretty much sound like Smeagol and Deagol fighting over the One Ring,) inside my head tell me I’m obviously done telling stories, and I should just give it up already because it’s not going to happen anymore. “You had a mediocre run, you gave it your all. Here’s a towel and some gatorade. Don’t bother taking a seat on the bench because you’re not getting back into the game…” Sounds like a real jerk, right? The worst part is I know that voice is my own insecurity trying to make sure I don’t rise above it, and the more it chatters, the heavier the weight of it starts to feel.

I lose sleep over it. I lay in bed at night thinking about all the ways I’m letting myself down, my family, my readers, my characters… Gods, my sweet characters who just want adventure and action and resolution…  They just want to live their imaginary lives, and I’m not letting them. What kind of wretched monster am I?

For the most part, I don’t believe the voice, (well… not entirely…) but it still gets to me. It digs in like a splinter, itching and throbbing, and the more I pick at it and try to pull things out, the harder and harder it becomes for me to focus and actualize the things I want to work on. It’s a catch-22 because I know writing and finishing one of the many projects I have in the sidelines trying to find their voice again will inspire and make me feel better, but digging into the splinter tends to make it burrow deeper, and therefore seemingly more impossible to pluck out.

I am going through one of those times in my life right now. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been so quiet. I’m over here busy wrestling with myself, trying to make something (ANYTHING) stick long enough to become a reality I can work with. So very frustrating, and I imagine it’s not very fun at all for the people who are waiting for books from me, but in the end I have to accept that it’s all part of my process. It’s how it’s always been, and I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s happening again. I know it will work itself out of my system, that one day soon I am going to wake up and know exactly how things are supposed to be written. I’ll sit down at my computer and being furiously typing as the sun beams through the darkness, and everything will feel brilliant and glorious and amazing all over again.

patienceUntil then, I have to be patient with myself. Easier said than done, I know, but it’s the only thing I can do. I’ll keep writing down all these ideas that keep flooding through me in my fancy little notebook, and the really powerful ones will keep nagging at me until they get written, and that’s okay because that’s how this works… for me, anyway.

We all have our processes. Our moments (sometimes months,) of madness we allow to define us, but that’s the thing. That madness doesn’t define me, it’s simply a temporary lapse into the void that despite the frustration and doubt it causes is all part of a process I’ve been enduring for at least three decades.