Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Things No One Tells You about NOT Writing

Harry Markov
Piece by Alberto Cerriteno.
I'm returning with the image
of the day feel to my blog. 

With much scrapping through the coffin’s wooden lid and elbowing through dirt, the blog has arisen from the yonder to feast on the righteous flesh of those who have succeeded it. Fear its indiscriminate trolling, ill mannered finger pointing and infection-sprouting referral links that will spell your doom.

Long story short, I have graduated from university.

Achievement unlocked: Bachelor in International Economics.

Finally, a writer with the knowledge and understanding of spending habits OR you know, the harbinger of our world economy’s end; whichever comes first I say.

On to the good stuff, eh? It’s been precisely one month, twenty-two days, five hours and forty minutes since my last post (I’m writing this on a Saturday, so it will probably be longer by the time you see it, but I’m not a stickler for numbers). Thankfully, this period does not apply to my sobriety.

During my absence, my blog’s reached 30,000 hits according StatCounter. My gratitude to all image searches and the people, who typed in “rule 34 Justice League”, “naughty time DC” or my favorite “sexy Baba Yaga”. Nothing lights my heart brighter than a quest for a serviceable geriatric of the occult variety. Given the less savory searches, I think I may have discovered a potent niche within visual pornography. 

Although I have been boldly going where no writer desires to half-step in (reality) and my ten tireless digits have slaved over the keyboard, I have been writing non-fiction, rather than what I really wanted to write. Priorities demanded I secure a juicy diploma and a steady income, so I don’t feel as if I have betrayed my purpose as a writer. If someone preaches that you have to write no matter what, then you should shoot said person in the face, because if writing causes unnecessary pain (after all the expression goes ‘suffering for’ and not ‘from’ your art), what’s the point in doing it.  

Regrets aside, I have learned a few things about not writing, which I think no one mentions as valid lessons for writers. Sometimes you have to not write and tackle other obstacles, but the moment you return to your writing projects, you will come head to head with several issues. I believe that most writers should prepare psychologically for these challenges.   

You Become the White Rabbit.
Everyone knows the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, the perpetually out-of-time tiny fluff ball of fucker in a petticoat. You become him. I became him (minus the petticoat) and I still haven’t repositioned my posterior with the intent to create. By now I should have finished with detailed prep-work for a novel series in the works for the last two years concept-wise.

Yes, prep-work for some doesn’t qualify to prance around with a status ‘full-fledged writing’ (though I protest the second-class citizenship some writers attribute to prep-work). Yet, for all intents and purposes, prep-work is writing.

What in the seven hells happened?

My space-time-continuum healed itself, which is a very fancy phrasing to explain slapping a band aid on my schedule, where the writing used to be and allow for my routine to change. I have unlearned the lessons about discipline. I have forgotten the sacrifices, their importance and I hop around much like the White Rabbit, constantly out of time. Perhaps Lewis Carroll could have given the bunny an organizer, but either way, be prepared to fight for your right to write all over again.     

You Have Drunk from the Waters of Lethe.
In Greek mythology, the waters from the river Lethe caused loss of memory. Now substitute drinking the waters from a hell river with watching television as a favorite pastime and you’ve got yourself a writer in abstinence.

During the months in preparations for exams, I had long periods of ADD (I’m only tentatively ascribing the condition to myself), where I couldn’t sit down to write. Naturally, my brain did its best to hide all writing tools (as if it prepared me for a treasure hunt) and erase their user instructions. I’m struggling with this mildly humorous, mostly self-serving post.

Sentence variation, masculine verbs and active voice? What were they? Coming back from a long spell of not writing will most likely mean that you will have to teach yourself your style from the ground up. Unless you are exceptional, then I hate you.

Your Mind Is a Sleeping Beauty.
Wait, what?

Yes, your mind, though in all honestly it’s just the part in charge of writing, which has slipped in a night gown, under the covers and has forgotten to set its alarm clock. Cue the handsome love interest.

Not only did I forget how to write, I forgot how to think as a storyteller. Don’t gasp. I’m still a storyteller, just a pale clone. It happens, when you don’t practice. Writing is not riding a bike; you don’t mount the keyboard and start from a saved checkpoint. Hearing the story, spinning the story, shaping the story into a fresher take on whatever plot you are rehashing from the mono-myth takes more time than you have grown used to.

I remember a writing exercise on the Internet, whose objective was to write ten story ideas in one go without a break. Nothing simpler than writing the core idea, the story’s backbone. Ten backbones. Pretty easy, right?

The first two or maybe three pose no challenge. However, they are the most obvious ones, the ones your imagination has seen done elsewhere and cached for a quick use later on. To access your mind’s full capabilities as a storyteller, you have to dig deeper, which is something I’ve to repeat once again.   

My personal lesson with not writing boils down to ‘one step forward, two steps back’. I have not fallen beyond salvation, but I’ll have to scrape the rust off my tools.

What are your stories from times, where you had periods of not writing?