Friday, August 24, 2012

Take That, Writer's Block!

It’s Insight Friday.

A month ago, a lightning strike fried the circuitry in my double oven. It died and could not be resuscitated. We found a great deal on a replacement but it would be a number of weeks before it would arrive.
Suddenly, I *had* to bake. No matter that I rarely used the oven during summer because of the heat in the house. I was adrift. I’d find new cookie recipes that couldn’t be tried. I’d stare at the browning bananas, knowing they couldn’t be transformed into banana bread. I wailed that I couldn’t bake a frozen pizza (and I don’t even eat frozen pizzas).

Here’s the obvious insight (drumroll please): I didn’t appreciate the oven until it was gone.

I’m going to make the comparison to my writing days – Mondays and Fridays.  I’ve been wasting my writing days on chores, the gym, other projects, my day job, etc. I maintain that I’m *stuck* and can’t get past this block.

But if you were to take away my Monday and Friday writing days, I bet I’d suddenly miss them. I’d wail that I didn’t have enough time to write and I’d stomp around bemoaning how few hours there are in the day for my craft.

Because there is little danger of a lightning strike taking away my Monday and Friday writing days, I’m going to pull up my big-girl panties and get over this BS writer’s block. It’s a Friday and I’m going to write.  

Is there anything you took for granted that was then taken away from you?

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Resisting a Timetable for Our Lives

Received an amusing (and important) email early this morning.

Subject line: Blog
Message in the email:  Um... Write one.

My dear writer friend, Micki, was gently reminding me that I’ve been lax in writing blog posts for some time. My first thought was to give you all the excuses WHY I’ve been lax (as I did in my last post about not writing). Instead, I’d like to tell you about a book I just read.

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. Finished it in a day. One of the grittiest, most violent books I’ve ever read, but one of the most beautifully written. Pollock’s spare writing made me pay attention so that I didn’t miss one single word. The characters – the ones you hated and the ones you loved – were masterfully created with nuance and depth. I was literally mesmerized.

Pollock debuted as a novelist at age 57 after working 32 years at an Ohio paper will.

When I first learned that detail, I thought how incredible to realize a dream after so long…that he probably carried parts of that story in his soul for all those years. But maybe the story couldn’t be written earlier.

Maybe we all carry within ourselves aspirations that have to glimmer and fade and then resurface over and over until we’re ready to give them physical form.

I’d like to ask Pollock how he knew he was ready. But I’m guessing there wouldn’t be a clear-cut answer that would give others (me?) insight into the timing of their (my) own personal creative journeys.

If anything, Pollock’s story makes me feel less anxious about the process of writing and creating -- and especially about my previous notions of a publishing timetable. I trust that I’ll have the answer one day. And that day doesn’t have to be today or even tomorrow.