I'm not terribly comfortable with self-revelatory writings or conversation, mainly because I always feel like I'm coming across as looking for sympathy or pity or liquor. Well, apart from the liquor, I'm not. So I usually don't. But I also feel some small imperative of honesty with this blog. And by honesty, I don't just mean "Don't print lies." It also extends to deception by omission. So.
I am, presumably, just now coming out of an uncomfortable awkward period with my writing. And by "period" I mean "since Halloween." And by "awkward" I mean "didn't write." And by "uncomfortable" I mean "excruciatingly, horrifically painful and agonizing." There. Feels good to get it off my chest, don't you think?
I don't know how or why it started. Probably an accumulation of factors: The usual rejections I normally amass were in the mix, sure, but I also had some book proposals turn up DOA, including one that had actually been accepted and scheduled by a publisher before winds changed. Add to that the search for my replacement at RevolutionSF and non-specific workload pressures at my day job... Boom! No more writey-write for Jayme.
That's not to claim I developed a case of writer's block. I don't think I did--at least, not writer's block as I understand it. I still had ideas. I could still sling words as good as I ever done. The trouble is, I didn't want to. No, that's not right. That implies a simple absence of desire. That I deal with constantly--I'm the world's A-Number 1 champion of pointless research and procrastination. I can avoid writing with a passion rivaled only by Pac-Man at an all-you-can-eat dot matrix buffet. This was different. This was anti-want. Revulsion. Rejection. Pathological recoilment in horror. When I started to write, I got nauseous. Headaches. Physically rejecting the very act of writing. At times, even the thought of writing would make me queasy.
Strange, no? You haven't heard the worst of it: This applied to any kind of writing. I've always viewed my fiction and non-fiction as two separate entities. Sure, they share a lot of the same tools stored up in the old gray matter, but the overlap of the creative process involved in the writing of either one was minimal. That's the way it feels to me. Fiction writing's always been some sort of ordeal for me, a slow, tedious slog through blind alleys and vapid word choice. Non-fiction, on the other hand, was more akin to a rapid-fire Tetris game with a looming deadline. "Put the pieces in place! Hurry! I need a word, a word, a word! Hey, there's one that fits! Looks great! Move on!" Suddenly, it was like someone planted a stink bomb right amongst those wack falling bricks. So not only did my novel and short story work come to a sudden and screeching halt, but there were no book reviews. No articles. No essays. No intros for my interview follow-up. Releases from work came few and far between. My blogging slowed significantly, although I like to think I did a decent job of obscuring that fact. I even let emails languish for obscenely long periods simply because I'd have to write something in order to reply.
This was very disturbing to me. I'd never, ever encountered anything like this before. The strangest thing was that I still could write, and the quality didn't seem to be affected: I kept up with the minimal number of releases I had to do at work. It wasn't pleasant, but I could do it. I even forced myself to work up a few overdue reviews, but they took hours longer than normal.
And as quickly as it came, this strange psychological aberration seems to have lifted (knock wood). Forcing out a number of reviews last week resulted in very little force being applied--the words flowed smoothly with no ill feelings arising. I picked up an old story languishing for more than a year, awaiting a rewrite, and found the idea of working on it appealing--exciting even. Then I read the story, and experienced the joy of discovery. "I hadn't remembered I'd don't that. Hey, this section here is pretty cool!" It wasn't as crude and unformed as I'd believed. In fact--and I fear this will smack of narcissism--I liked it, because it entertained me. That was a pleasant discovery.
The long and short of it is that three fallow months of unintended and undesired unproductivity have hopefully come to an end. It was an unpleasant experience. I don't recommend it to anyone. But I post this confession so as to disabuse anyone of the idea that the writing experience at Casa de Blaschke is consistently sunshine and lollipops. Because it ain't.
The downside to all this is that I'm back to having to invent my own procrastination techniques again. Such is life.
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