Thursday, October 2, 2008

What We Whine About When We Whine about Writer's Block


Every writer feels it at least once,if not regularly: the not wanting to begin, the dread writer's block, the magnetism of procrastination.every writer one i know, at least, and those whose biographies and memoirs i've read.

it's a very perverse,unnecessary banana peel step on the road to creation. i believe, against my past history, I'm gaining a little bit on it. when approaching a genuine, hard deadline (as in, the check is being printed, or not printed) i no longer wait until the last possible mo. i give myself a small buffer of time to finish writing a piece, just the slimmest wafer of time , to allow for punctuality. an idiotic, exhaustive,useless state of inner affairs, that's what procrastination and its fraternal twin, writers block is.

why do i do it? i ask you. i ask myself. it is because I'm a drama queen? I'm lazy? I'm fearful and anxious regarding both failure and success? I'm on a wholly other planet in my mind, at times, a place without time or money and a place devoid of the greasy noose of the deadline, swaying with tangible menace in front of the mind's eye? am i rebellious? spoiled, immature, narcissistic, thoughtless and glib? possessing an inappropriate sense of entitlement regarding my Creative Process? irreverent and carefree, holding nothing that can be called 'work' sacred? hedonistic, pagan, apathetic, and completely devoid of boundaries whenever the mood strikes? selfish to the BONE? reckless, slipshod, slick, feckless, haughty, distant, rude, shallow, cavalier, flippant, oblivious, arrogant, full of false pride and a shabby bravado i don't possess, but practice nonetheless to the detriment of myself, those around me, and my personal environment?

yes. all that, plus a strange feeling of desertion by any scrap of a muse. the sinking sensation of being alone with the blank page. and the blank page feels like being alone with a bomb.

tick tick tick tick tick tick.

it may be that i am only able to write, to complete, in order to stop the ticking bomb inside.

but oh, then comes a golden silence, a perfect glade of relief and childlike freedom. it doesn't last , but it's a magic time, when the writer's block and the procrastination have withdrawn...the time after one book is done, and just before the next rounds the corner, brandishing a blackjack and smoking with impatience.

'The art of Frida Kahlo is like a ribbon around a bomb" Andre Breton


LindaC said...

I am absolutely in awe of you writers, especially you writers of fiction. It boggles my mind. How do you keep it all straight? How do you remember it all, what order, all the names and details? It is just amazing to me. But thank God for you writers!


we don't keep it all straight. we hack through the forest in a long, slow crooked path, one that ends up close to straight.

GeorgeStuteville said...

Suzanne: you have set many a blank page on fire with your thoughts and words.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love that you're bringing "feckless" back - not enough has been made of its perfection of a word.

Polly Kahl said...

I've never had the problem with non- but I can easily imagine it happening with fiction. With non-fiction the story's already written, so to speak, and the writer just has to find a way to convey it, but with fiction it's a whole other thing.

Polly Kahl said...

p.s. So excited you're allowing comments! But concerned this will go the way of Haven's blogs and soon you'll be deluged with hundreds of commenters who have discovered the option. Please promise, no book clubs no matter how fun it would be! :)



Anonymous said...

oh this post! it's gets me... and the fact that you type in lower case too... it's just so easy on the eyes.

you talk about the muse. the space i give female form... i think of her alot. her and her cold shoulder. we play tag.

thoughts swirl around me, overwhelm me. thoughts that should be shared pen to paper. but i resist myself. i let them fly away from me. knowing i do this, i become the jackass writer who smirks and says ‘leave me alone.’ i lay on my bed and the thoughts drip out my ears and eyes and i casually let them. ‘go away from me.’ i swat at them like nuisances, and then i regret it. the familiar empty feeling that fills me once i recognize that the muse is gone. she was there on the windowsill for quite some time. she waited patiently for me to hear her whispers. she must have grown tired of my own resistance. it’s true, if you ignore her enough, she floats away. now i’m left with these empty thoughts like flattened pillows. ramblings of life that are so syncopated they make no sense to me at all.

thank you so much for writing. i can't express how much i loved your book. how the timing of it was almost too much for me to bear. perfect in that painful sense like dylan's 'blood on the tracks'


meredith, you have the voice of a poet. thank you for your sweet remarks. well, sometimes as anne lamott says, we have to "...endure the waves of love." xo sf


"blood on the tracks" is one of the finest things ever. the epitome of bittersweet.

Anonymous said...

'finest things ever'...yes indeed. and when dylan is reminded of this he can't understand how so many people can feel that much beauty from all that pain.

bittersweet. so true.


because the pain is the alchemy for the beauty. and because dylan is a genius.