Saturday, April 25, 2009

Writer's Block... Finally!

My name is Christine and I am a recovering novelist. I haven't written in 19 days.

I have finally achieved writer's block. I actually opened my novel file last night, looked at it without any inspiration, and closed it again. I wasn't even interested, if you can believe that.


For the writers who come across this blog, the previous statements may be highly depressing. For me, they express both sorrow and relief. I recall saying to my husband a few months ago, "I wonder what it would be like to be normal and not live in two worlds at the same time?"

His response: "Well, you'll never know."

But the turmoil in our home that has resulted from having a wife and mother who is constantly mentally absent, and my own dismay at the frantic haphazardness in which I have been conducting myself at work, forced me to give up the book for a time. I was still addicted to writing and publishing blogs, but am losing interest in those, too. It probably helps that I started reading other people's books again. Imagination abhors a vacuum.

Come In Character has been both a blessing and a curse. In one sense, I have gotten to know my characters a little better by putting them in situations outside of the novel's setting. On the other hand, I am experiencing the sort of disorientation that my friend Michelle G. mentioned a while ago when she worked on a short story about her characters outside of the context of her book.

I wonder now if the book will ever get finished, or if it will go the way of Tea by the Sea, which has sat untouched on my computer for about five years now.

I wonder if there is any way to be the person I need to be when I'm not writing, when I'm writing.

I also wonder if I will ever, in a million years, get caught up with everything at home and work. There is just so much that needs to be done, and it never ends. Everyone knows this... we are all in the same boat. But when I survey the mountain of clutter and disarray in my home, our home, I want to cry.

The summer is fast approaching, along with the crammed 5-week semester I have to teach, and the long, empty blank of vacation which I will have to fill up for my son. Then school starts in September. Ironically, that may be when I start writing again, because I will be teaching only three days a week, rather than five.

Perhaps my book will just have to wait for September. Or perhaps I will find, after all, that I don't need to work on it any more, and that my life is complete without it. Our family life has been so much better the past few weeks. I owe my husband and son my full attention, and my students as well.

What is the dark
shadow around you,
why not take heart
in the new day?
Ever and always.
Always and ever.
No one can promise a dream for you,
Time gave both darkness and dreams to you.

"Once You Had Gold" - Roma Ryan (performed by Enya)


Myra said...

Sometimes it's good to stew...however, I posted a link to a most encouraging blog in my blog today. What is it with Saturday morning blogging? ;)

Mitch Wallace said...

Good to hear that your break from writing is turning out to be a positive experience. I'm sure the book will call you back when the timing is right.

And I love this statement you made: Imagination abhors a vacuum. I'm learning this more and more every day, and finding that if I don't allow myself to enjoy others' creativity, if I isolate myself to my work and my work alone, then my words start to weaken and die. Got to keep filling up the tank!

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

What is at the heart of the block?
Internal - guilt? hayfever? Query'fail'?
External - family? rising dust and weeds? work?
Plot - this character - this place - this time?
Jump to the next place you are certain of - write from there and find the way to link later?
I imagine it - like living in the 'movie'.
My book 2 is 'on hold' during the editing and pushing for book 1 - once a day I picture Jess where I left her - while the sense-a-rama is still there I know I can go back and get Caleb to save her from herself anytime I want.
I have found endless amounts of strength from the writers I have found from Nathan's World x)

Christine H said...

Hi, Elaine,
The cause of the block is my conscious decision to break the writing habit, in order to save my marriage. I am also forswearing Nathan's blog and others for at least a week. I need to "get my head in the game" of my real life for a change.
Someday I'll figure out how to do both, but for the time being I need to take care of things around here.
Thanks for the encouraging words! Keep writing... for both of us.

Elaine 'still writing' Smith said...

Priorities - the delicate act of balance - the reel of real life.
I send my thoughts and all good wishes to you.

Michelle Gregory said...

so if this means there's not a story presently going on in your head, would you please tell me what that's like, because I have about four or five stories going on in my head at once, most of the time, whether i'm working on one of them or not. they're like impatient children, all clamoring for my attention.

Christine H said...

Michelle... it's actually lovely to be able to focus. It's like having a day when the kids are all at Grandma's and you can do laundry or garden or read a book in peace. I still think about them in the back of my mind, but the clamor has quieted to a sort of distant, barely audible whisper.

But, at the same time, I miss them dreadfully. :(

Suzette Saxton said...

Your first sentence cracked me up! Thanks for the laugh. Good luck with your writing!

Suzette Saxton