Monday, December 7, 2009

Missing: Life Force. Please Return. Reward: Chestnuts Roasted on an Open Fire

This whole book thing is sucking the life force out of me.

I know, I know. It’s what I’ve always wanted and I should be able to find the joy in it and by complaining I sound like a big fat whiner and nobody likes a whiner.

Captain Daddy and I got mired in a teeny, weeny Marital Moment about this the other night. Here’s what I said, roughly, over a beer at the local pub:

The bottomless soul-searching necessary to unearth the history and truth that will make these essays good is like letting 100 angry leeches feast on me from the inside out.

Sacrificing organic creation for “sit down and create something beautiful about Topic X—now GO!” is like the Bataan Death March for the fragile artistic soul.

When I sit down to write, it hurts. Metaphorically, but also physically. Like someone is taking bites out of my head.

Half of what I write is complete crap anyway and ends up in the file on my computer I named “shitcan”.

At the end of the day I want to slip into a coma and sleep for like 17 million hours.

When the chickens run past me screaming naked with peanut butter smeared on their bodies and hitting each other with sharp objects all I can manage is to stare at them blankly as if they are a bad television show that I would turn off if only I could muster the energy to locate the remote.

And I am feeling, well, just a little bit done. As in DONE. But I can’t be DONE, because I am not done. And there’s something to be said for showing up and persevering, but sometimes maybe there is wisdom in knowing that one is just DONE.

At which point, Captain Daddy gave me a rather bored look which implied that he’s heard this all before, and perhaps I was overreacting just a tiny bit, as well as maybe whining in that particularly irritating “my pain is bigger than your pain will ever be” melodramatic self-pitying shortsighted way.

And he mentioned gently that part about this being my long-lusted-after dream. And that lots of things in life are hard work, especially things that are worthwhile.

Which made me pout.

But I know he’s right. (Don’t tell him, because he’ll just do that “I was right” happy dance and I’ll have to throw spitballs at him made of tinsel.)

Do you think I just need a break, and beautiful things will bubble back up to the surface? Or is my coma permanent? Yesterday I took a rest by addressing 125 Christmas cards and holiday shopping for three hours in a 14-degree snowstorm, but the answer to this question did not become immediately apparent.


  1. I think you need a break. When we are forced to do something, even something we love, we stubbornly, resentfully resist. By "we" I mean me.

    Decide to NOT TOUCH IT for the rest of the year. Then you'll want to...

  2. I still don't know why I'm identified by a string of numbers and letters.

  3. Me neither, but I always know it's you. :)

  4. PS You are so right. I do love this, and I need to have faith that the love will return even if I walk away for a bit.

  5. Excellent post, and wonderful imagery. Keep at it. a process, and while micro breaks are good, writing only gets done by doing it.

  6. I think you need a break! I know Bryce Courtney says the secret to being a successful writer is "bum glue," glue your bum to the chair and write, but when there's no more blood left in the turnip, go eat ice cream or take a nap. Feed yourself somehow! Isn't that what Julia Cameron says? You are a brilliant writer with so much left to say. This I know.

  7. Thanks, all. I have so much fear that if I take a break I'll never come back to it. But that's never happened before. Ten years and I've always come back. And sitting there when I am totally depleted is a waste of time. It's funny, too--sometimes all I need to do is tell myself I can have a break, like, tell myself I am allowed to go to the movies for the afternoon, and instead I find myself back in the chair, compelled to write. Which I am sure only proves how mental I am about this whole writing biz. :o