I’m not writing (much of anything). I don’t even want to. Both the idea of revising my latest novel and starting something new makes my stomach twist. It makes me lightheaded and weary. The very thought causes my palms to sweat and my head to ache. The sight of a blank page, paper or computer screen, turns me off. Stringing even these words together is ten times more difficult than it has ever been for me before.
I could go on and on about what writing means to me, about how people tell me that being a writer doesn’t mean being published, that some writers never get published, that I ought to just write for fun, that I should – I should – I should love writing for writing’s sake.
I don’t. I want to be published. I want a book on the library shelf and the bookstore shelf. I could do that. I have the skill set to self publish. I wouldn’t make any money but it would look good. I could probably even market it a little bit, get a few people to buy it, to read it. But I don’t want to do that.
I want validation. And I’m not talking about from friends and family. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to connect with an agent, then an editor, then a sales team, then a marketing team – to have a group of people I don’t know rally behind my writing. It’s not unreasonable because there are thousands of people who have that happen to them all the time. I’m just not one of them.
I wish I could say that I was okay with that. I wish I could say that I just love writing so much that it doesn’t matter if people ever read it. That it doesn’t matter if all my stories and novels remain on my hard drive for the rest of my life. I envy people who write for themselves. If I could change that about myself, I would. But I can’t.
And the very fact that it’s out of my control (and don’t tell me that “it’ll happen next time” or “just keep writing” or “you just need to write another novel”) is maddening. It has sucked all the joy I have ever felt at writing right out of me.
Her pixie mouth leaves a half-moon
of pale flesh exposed on tender ruby skin.
Bittersweet juice coats her lips like honey,
glossy sheen in sunlight.
The tip of her tongue wipes clean the evidence
while her fingers clutch the fruit, round,
nearly-whole, weighing down her palm
until it slides & hits the dirt: thunk.
The garden alights as though a sepia filter removed.
For the first time, her pupils dilate
& take in her world: no filter.
I don’t want to write another novel.
It’s true that I have several ideas waiting to be continued or started, but to be perfectly honest, I just don’t have it in me. I can’t bring myself to start another 80,000 word project right now.
So I’m in the in-between writing phase. I want to write but I don’t want to start a long term project.
My focus over the next few months will be journal and magazine submissions. Poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction/essay. Let’s do this.
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Last week was a really hard week for me.
I got sick for the second time in a month. While it wasn’t the awful flu that took me out a few days while on vacation in Walt Disney World, it was still not much better. An acute upper respiratory infection plus two ear infections. I’ve never had a cough this bad before that I can remember. It’s all-encompassing and worse when I sit up which made sitting and concentrating at a desk all week incredibly difficult.
I took off work Tuesday and left early on Wednesday. I made it through all of Thursday, just barely, and my emotional well-being deteriorated due to some things that happened at work that I wish I could go into but have done so privately enough to keep myself from doing so in a public forum. I went to urgent care where I got my diagnosis, four medications, and a doctor’s note to miss again on Friday. Then I went to sleep.
Despite being off work on Friday, I still took care of some things at home because I care about my job, knew I left some things open, and because I’m good at my job. But that apparently wasn’t enough and I had a minor breakdown about my job late Friday night into early Saturday morning that only succeeded in making me even sicker.
Sometimes there are things that you can’t control in the moment. I can’t control my job right now. I love my job. I love where I work. There are just some aspects about it that are making it difficult to remember all the things I love about it. I don’t want to look for another job. It’s an additional stress I don’t want in my life right now. Right now I’ve marked that the part of my life that is my job – a bit part considering that working 40 hours a week is pretty much the overarching feature of my job for the majority I’m awake – isn’t controllable at the moment. I can’t immediately change or fix or better that situation.
So my sickness, low moments, and frustration forced me to ask, what can I control right now?
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It comes and goes but most of the time I feel like I’ve hit a brick wall. I’m stuck. The story is there but it won’t come out. I try to force it and nothing happens. Write, I say. Just write. Whatever comes out, let it out. Just let the words come out even if they are awful and nonsensical and don’t get me anywhere.
The worst of it is, I know where I want this novel to go. I have it planned out. I have a very loose outline that tells me that, barring any unforeseen character actions, I have 10 scenes left to write at about 1,500 words each. That’s 15,000 words which puts me at my ultimate word count goal of about 75,000 words. I wrote 50,000 words in one month last November and I can’t write 15,000 words right now.
Maybe I’m looking at it too clinically. Maybe I’m being too pragmatic. As I’ve said before, I’ve never been the type of writer to outline. Outlines make me feel claustrophobic, boxed in. Outlines kill my writing. That’s what I did here, I know it. But I thought I had to. I want to finish this book. I thought if I just gave myself a deadline – March 31 according to my day planner – then I’d be able to complete the draft. I need to complete this draft.
I’m tired of feeling stuck. Stuck not only in my writing but in my life. I know that plans don’t ever go the way we anticipate them to, but I guess I thought I’d be published by now. I thought that I’d have an agent and a book deal and a book on the shelves at the local bookstore and library. I’m tired of writing and failing again and again.
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