Tag Archives: writer’s block

There Are No Accidents But So Many Questions

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I am here by accident.  Well, not here on earth…well…actually, since there is an 11 year span between me and my sister I stand corrected on that score…

I am on my blog by accident – today.  I was sitting here thinking of ways I could procrastinate (again).  I’ve already cleaned the bathroom and dyed my hair.  I’ve read the newspaper and played with the cat.  I’ve answered the door (thank you, Fed X!).  Fresh out of ideas, I was in the process (or so I thought) of logging onto Facebook.

My fingers had other ideas.  They know what I should be doing and set about typing WordPress instead of Facebook.

Traitors.

As every writer knows, procrastination is the devil on your shoulder.  The little voice that says, “Hey, wouldn’t you rather motor up the Don Valley Parkway and look at fall foliage?” or, “Hey, wouldn’t you rather scrub the toilet?”  Rationally speaking, the answers to both questions would be no.  The DVP is a pain in the ass and so is the toilet but this is what happens when a writer feels compelled to procrastinate.  Suddenly, inexplicably, there is nothing more important than a bunch of yellow and red maples or the disgusting state of the toilet.

Writers, as stated by many famous ones, are world champion procrastinators.  If procrastinating were an Olympic sport, we’d all be gold medalists.  The smart writers sit placidly in front of their screens and daydream.  The ones with ADD (like me) paint rooms.  Let’s just say partners and spouses can tell that you haven’t been writing all day if the house is a different colour when they get home.

Why do writers procrastinate?  What is it about our genetic/personality/dysfunctional make-up that necessitates avoiding doing the very thing we claim to love so dearly?

I have a theory:  fear.  Every time I sit in front of my screen, I am terrified that no words will come.  This fear is now magnified by the fact that I’m on antidepressants.  I’m cheerful and calm these days but the creativity seems to have dried up like a desert lake.  I break out in a cold sweat just thinking of writing; I walk in a wide arc around the computer.

When push comes to shove and my fingers get moving, I’m usually fine.  If I’m not, I vow to write my “one square inch” and be done with it.  However, it’s really hard not to feel enormously guilty about less-than-stellar efforts or results. Guilt does not always yield creative results.

Worse than procrastination is hard work that doesn’t necessarily yield a tangible product at the end of the day.  By sitting down at the computer for four to six hours, I’m not building anything that you can sit on, I’m not solving the debt crisis in Greece, I’m not finding a cure for cancer.  I’m not earning a dime from that four to six hours of effort.

So, why?  How many writers, day in and day out, ask themselves that very question?  Is it worth the guilt?  The ever-mounting bills?

The other evening, my daughter was discussing what she wants to do when she grows up.  Her (current) career choice is not one that will garner her a huge income, ever.  I blurted out, “If you love what you do, that is the most important thing.”  I caught some looks.  I felt guilt and sadness wash over me.  Is love enough?  What a question.

 

 

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The Light

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A potentially sanity-saving email from The Literary Man popped into my inbox this morning.  A writing prompt.  “Write about light,” it said.  Fear and worry have threatened to render me useless, mute, and paralyzed.  I lay in bed this morning wondering if I could even summon one word again, let alone sentences, paragraphs…ah, banshee are dramatic creatures…

And so, some light.  Thank you Literary Man!

I woke,pulled curtains aside and discovered a morning dripping in light.  Gone was the heavy air that had enveloped the city in a dirty, yellow haze.  The dawn was crystalline, pale blue like an aquamarine dipped in water.  Tree leaves fluttered, outlined in razor-sharp relief, ridiculously green against slate gray shingles and blue sky.  Fear was lifted from the world. I threw back the covers and watched columns of dust ascend, remarkably disciplined for dead skin and cat dander, into the sunlight. Coloured prisms twirled on the walls like strings of gems hanging in a breeze.  The clarity of light outside terrified and mesmerized.

Looking away from the window, my eyes met heavy dark furniture, dull walls, duller carpet.  If whitewash were at hand, the whole house would be put to the brush.  Everything should reflect the sparkling light; I wanted it to careen off every possible surface.  How could light be captured in such morose surroundings? Would it not flee? An incandescent bulb would no longer seem adequate, an inferior imitation to this brightness. Clouds formed in the west, deadly filters of this faultless light. I closed my eyes; in and for an instant, darkness fell again.