Tuesday, September 8, 2020

You're either in the game . . .

On May 22, 2020, I completed the first draft of a new short story (looking in my files it might be "Life Giver," though I'm not one hundred percent certain). The next day, I started a string of 108 consecutive days of no writing. I haven't had a drought like that for at least a decade and a half. And that might be the problem. 

Sure, we are all dealing with the COVID pandemic, and it has turned everything inside out. Maybe that contributed to this dry spell. But I think, more likely, it's the fact that I've been writing on a fairly regular basis for at least 15 years now, and it's tiring pushing against that tide and finding that the weight of water can be overwhelming (if I may be allowed to extend that metaphor). 

Always before, when I would put off writing for a short while -- a few days up to a week -- there would be an anxiety that would churn in my gut, telling me to get back to the keyboard, urging me not to waste all the time I've put into this by just giving up. I would become irritable, though at a low level, because of this urge to write. And eventually, I would sit back down and start that habit all over again. Because that's the key:  you have to make it a habit, and you can only do that by sitting down to do the work. That's how the muse comes to you, how the words get written, how inspiration sparks in your brain -- not through divine intervention but through sitting in your chair banging away at the keys. I know this; I've experienced it, and I know how simple it can be to get back into that habit (for me, the threshold tends to be 3 days; once I've "done the work" for three days straight, then it becomes easier and the sitting down isn't such a chore, BUT the ugly flipside is:  it only takes one days to break that habit, and easing into that as a new habit is way too easy). 

I'm a full-time dad, full-time husband, full-time employee, which means carving out time to write is a challenge. But that doesn't mean it's impossible. I just need to take time from other aspects of my life, aspects revolving around my free time (put that in scare quotes, because free time is at a premium in this game of life), and during these past few months, I've really enjoyed reading some old comics, reading Alan Moore's JERUSALEM (what a beast, and brilliant!), watching baseball on TV now that it's back, and generally just appreciating my free time. It's been good, especially since I haven't experienced any of that anxiety I would, when I stopped writing before. 

But now, I am hoping to get back on that horse. It won't be easy (I know that) because I've really enjoyed grabbing comics from my longboxes and creating stacks of books to cycle through. But I have a novel just about ready for querying, and I'm halfway through the first draft of another novel (I'm looking at you, Dan; we're gonna finish this, and maybe I'll take on the balance of this initial draft, once I set up my synopsis and stuff for contacting agents), and there are any number of short stories I want to write or revise or just submit. There's plenty on my plate. I just need to get cracking. 

Like I've noted many times before in my writing posts, if you want to write you need to write. 





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