Turnabout

I always laugh when anyone tells me how glamourous it must be to be a writer.

The sight of me, unwashed and furious, staring at a glowing screen for hours while the people inside my head refuse to make sense, occasionally taking a break to pace furiously up and down the hall while the dogs trot behind me inquisitively, running into me when I stop and change direction, me throwing myself on the floor in the living room and snarling “BUT THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE” and Miss B gamely trying to make it make sense by licking my face…you know, “glamour” is not the word that comes to mind. “Hysterically funny to watch Lili suffer” is what comes to mind.

My dears, I have a confession to make.

I’ve written through every other move and upheaval in my life. And by that, I mean I wrote in the hospital after C-sections (don’t ask), I wrote when the electricity got shut off because someone hadn’t paid the bill (roommates, oh, I could write a book about them sucking), I’ve written through two divorces, the death of a soulmate, and various other Fun and UnFun Events. Write during a move? Sure, no problem. Make my deadlines while buying a house? Pshaw, I’ve eaten better stress than this for breakfast.

I was wrong.

I did not understand (I was warned, though, I really was) about the level of stress involved in the legal albeit temporary possession (because really, the bank owns everything, and what the bank doesn’t own eminent domain can be invoked to make the state own) of a wooden structure on a lot that one pours money into. I did not understand that stress would play merry hob with deadlines, and I did not understand that the move would drain my emotional energy so badly I can barely force myself out of bed in the morning.

Hyperbole? Only a little.

Never before has the discipline of forcing myself to sit and chip words out of the folds of my cerebellum been so critical. Never before have I sat and looked at the screen and at my hands, and thought I know how to do this, I know what happens next, I just cannot find the goddamn words. For someone who has built her life on the power and magic of the written word, it’s a wee bit, oh, what’s the term, hmmm…

…terrifying? Yes, that applies.

As Julia Cameron often pointed out, it takes fuel to burn hard enough to create art. I’m scraping the bottom of my cupboard, and for the first time, the words are not just under the surface. The little bastards are cowering in deep caves, delighting in my agonized screams as I claw them out one by one and throw them onto the page, where I must nail them in and listen to them shriek as they writhe.

*clears throat*

Well. Now that I have that out of my system…

…okay, I have dished out hard advice here before. Now, dear chickadees, dear Readers, dish me some. I know I’m going to keep writing–after all, I have no choice–but turnabout’s fair play. Lay it on me. Zadie Smith’s ten rules can only take me so far. Be cruel to be kind, dear Readers. You’ll likely never get another chance.

And now, excuse me while I go grubbing for more screaming little word-bastards. I will read every piece of advice you give me, dear ones. Tomorrow.

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SueAnne Merrill
SueAnne Merrill

Artists Dates should be on the agenda, for sure. Gotta refill the well. You haven’t lost the words you need to make us roll on the floor, just the ones you need for the book. I’m sure they’re around somewhere. Maybe Miss B has herded them into a corner somewhere and won’t let them out.

James
James

So I can give no advice on writing. Your writing on your blogs is still good so you haven’t stopped completely. My only bit of advice is please don’t try and sell the house I for one find selling a lot more stressful than buying. At least when you buy a house you are in control. Good luck 🙂

Dylan C.
Dylan C.

When you can’t write, draw. Doesn’t matter what. Take up a pencil and cover an A4 page. Keeps you from winding yourself up about the words.

Tracy
Tracy

I work things out in writing–it’s really the only fool proof method I have of figuring things out. Talk it out, walk it out, think it out, it doesn’t work for me. I HAVE to write it down. There’s something I do when I don’t want to write or I don’t know where the story is going. I grab a timer, set it for 20 min., open a word program, CLOSE MY EYES! and write. I write stupid sh$t like, “alright, I’ve got twenty minutes to figure out what I”m going to do with Shelley in the stupid gallery. I… Read more »

Myra S.
Myra S.

I take some advice from Ray Bradbury. When the words won’t come I sit and writer whatever will come: lists of words I’d like to use, names for future characters, creative ideas, grocery lists. You name it, I write it and after awhile it gets easier since it proves to me that the words really are there even if the little B-tards are hiding. Failing that I go grab Ray Bradbury’s book “The Zen of Writing” or Stephen King’s “On Writing.” It soothes me to read the words of other authors on the craft that’s giving me so much trouble.… Read more »

Kim
Kim

Zumba, or some kind of exercise you’d not normally do . You need more oxygen to access those characters and their stories and nothing does it better than getting your body moving and the mind gets moving too. So exited to read your next work especially if it is SA#6 🙂

Kim

J.D. Rhoades
J.D. Rhoades

I hear you, Lilith. My energy eaters tend to be trials, especially jury trials (I still have my day job as a trial lawyer). Trying to put one of those together and write a book at the same time is like trying to write two books at once, one fiction and one carefully documented and sourced non-fiction (be nice, y’all). If I was trying to buy a house, too, I think I’d go completely around the bend. I’ll second the suggestions of “take a walk, write somewhere else, and [especially] listen to some good chillout music.” And I wish you… Read more »