Sunday, September 2, 2012

August, You Bitch! I'm leaving you.

 July, August: these months were not fun without my laptop working, and hotly hot weather. Little family troubles piled onto that, a few biggies followed, and August refused to end or get better. I'd decided to skip right into September a week early, give the summer a rest, and it seemed September was obliging me, but no... the heat returned, as it did last summer's end, to twist my plans around one more time.

 Who, I ask, that is not in grade school or living on a beach, can enjoy summer anymore? If you like summer, I'm not sure we can still be friends. Okay, I'll try, but don't talk swimming, golfing or the glory of being outdoors to me, please. I gave my cat fleas by going outdoors this August.

 I gave my cat fleas!

 Now I'm in for three months of treatment tubes, plus all the extra cleaning we had to do. #@!% summer! Summer in Buffalo, the bitch goddess of Weather-That-Makes-You-Hate-the-Sun. I moved back to Buffalo for the cold, and what happens? Summer takes over and extends herself in all directions. Well, not on my watch, baby. I'm leaving you, and just to prove it, I'll turn on my oven tomorrow and BAKE AN APPLE PIE!!!! Crumb-topped, cinnamon rich, flaky fruited pie. How's that for Autumn-erotica?

 Okay, maybe Tuesday I'll bake; it's still too warm.

 As my carefully laid plans for that evil season just past were blown to hell,  I'm going to use this space, in September, for a purpose I normally wouldn't-- a writing blog about writing. Don't expect elegance, query techniques, or lofty meditations on the nature of art itself, unless I write a drunken post, one day.

 Let's get right into the shit, then.

 Say you're going along, getting things done, or at least moving your projects from stage to stage, when the clouds descend, and you can't go forwards, or backwards; in a ward, your stride has been broken. Could be something as annoying as a broken laptop (that was less than a year old, dammit!, so why did I have to have the motherboard replaced already?) or something personal/emotional, like having a friend/family member go off the deep end and drag you into their drama. Or, you approach the state of divorce, but pull back; or you could get sick.

 Whatever it is, it stops you for a time, and then resolves, leaving you in a state of dissaray. Maybe so scattered you can't properly spell disarray, even though you were a top speller in grade school without working at it.

 It's not a block, it's more a thorny mix of lethargy and panic. Panic, because all the work to do and ideas and hot excited stuff running through the veins in your head built up into crazy, impossible layers while you couldn't get to it, or use it; lethargy from not writing, not regularly pushing your idea meat through the ole grinder. More panic, because you're aware that you are stale, too stale to properly assemble the bright structures your luminous, mile-high ideas deserve; and you know that as soon as you try setting them down, they'll crumble into sharp, painful reminders of what should have been.

 Then you try to jump in anyway, and the work is stiff, it's like running through molasses, and just as messy and cloying. You find yourself crazily hopping from metaphor to metaphor, in search of solidity, perhaps.

 What do you do now?

 It's a given that others will tell you to work through the rough patch, and I'd agree. However, I'd caution choosing your re-entry into imaginationland carefully. Pick a small piece to rewrite, or a very tight goal within your large work-in-progress. One that you don't have to worry about screwing up too bad, one you know you can go back to. Don't take on the glistening new idea just yet.

 Some may argue with this point, saying that the energy of newness will carry you through, and maybe it will. Or it could help you botch a promising new project in a way that drains you further, so that you curse the darkness while throwing out your last broken taper. Not what we're trying for, right?

 I think the safest, most comfortable project is the one to help you ease back in. Copying a final draft of a story, just to copy it, and giving yourself the opportunity to admire your past work. You might even see what needs improving-- you might get some of the juice back, taking it slow.

 For instance, I've been updating my blogs, and then stacking up posts for some of them in advance. Knowing I have even a half-finished draft of one of my weekly posts takes the pressure off. The feeling of relief is beginning to segue into excitement about a new book I had planned, before the onset of problems that put me off my daily writing habit. I can feel myself becoming ready-- not there yet, but closing in, getting to that hungry, happy state where I can't wait any longer to Start!

 Are you there?




Casey said...

Thank you.

This post makes a heck of a lot of sense to me, especially with regard to the lethargy...I know I should get back to the book, otherwise I'll spend the rest of my life talking about it, and never write it, but the lethargy just says 'Do I have to?'

I'm going to give myself a break tomorrow, and do as you suggest.

Take care,


heavy hedonist said...

Good for you. And for me, well, my break-time is almost over. Almost...