Some writers believe in Writer’s Block, and some don’t. Whatever you want to call it, there are times that the words don’t flow, or what does come out is garbage. It happens. The trick is to figure out why.
In my continuing quest to let you see my abby-normal brain working (no flash photography, please) let’s poke at the short story that has stalled out.
I’ve got the characters, some dialogue, some introspection, some action, a twist, some creepy shit (it’s horror), and a decent circling back ending. In the past I’ve been able to run with this much, and flesh out the story around these bones, but I only have about half. Mostly what I’ve written this week is just not “muscle.” It’s goo. Or phlegm, or something like snot from a sinus infection. There is not a lot of it, either, which is seriously screwing up my daily word count promise to myself.
I’ve picked at it during breaks in the day job. I’ve taken walks. I’ve read good books. I’ve watched new TV shows. I’ve organized part of the garage and attic. I’ve napped. I’ve sat down and just written oozing, stinking garbage to see if that will jar it loose. It’s not budging, and I’m running out of time. (It’s a self-imposed time restriction, so the only one hurt if I miss it is me. But, shit, I’m tired of hurting myself.)
There’s a history book beside my knee that is the right time period for the story, but I haven’t cracked open. Why? I don’t know. (I think I won’t like what I’ll find.) There is also a book of the same genre that I’ve been meaning to read. That could give it a jump-start, but I just leave it closed. Why? I don’t know. (Ditto.)
Something isn’t right, and I’m not sure if it’s one of the elements of the story, or that I’m just a shit writer.
If it’s the story, something will jar things loose. Some small bit of information, or a sudden realization, or a casual comment dropped into a conversation. I’ll adjust the elements to accommodate the changes, and be writing happily within minutes, without a frackin’ care in the world. Magic. Abra-cadabra-skippity-dee-do. Familiar magic, at this point, but magic all the same.
If I’m just a shit writer… Well, this could take a while. Because I’m not a shit writer, and if my brain is telling me that I am, then there’s some fear burbling to the surface. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of being an imposter.
It’s something all people deal with, and writers are certainly not exempt. Unnecessary fear is the brain confusing one thing with another. Chemicals for one job applied accidentally to the wrong job, but it sucks the artist’s brain into a pit of self-loathing, and climbing back out is everything.
It might be time to step back, and take another run at “Art and Fear,” which I have mentioned here, and re-examine what the hell I am doing. I’ll keep y’all posted.
(Ignore the fake smile.)