Channeling it Into Writing

Fair warning. What follows is a fairly whiny and scattered rant. I’m writing it in hopes of expelling the negative energy.

I had a big writing plan today. Big chunk of time to myself, plenty of ambition, just enough coffee. It was almost perfect. I say almost because I haven’t seen the sun in about a week (I think. I’ve lost track). Not that it’s perpetual night here in Chicago, but it’s been overcast for days and when I’m working the day job, I’m in a windowless room so even if it does come out, I’m not there for it. This has definitely brought the energy level way down. That and eating nothing but marshmallows for lunch. Don’t judge me. It’s the weather’s fault. Not mine.

But I was feeling it today. Big time. So, I fired off one angry email this morning, honestly assuming it would go nowhere (since everything else surrounding said email has gone nowhere. It’s a long story about a battle I’m fighting. I’d say more, but don’t want to mess it up. Social media is a surprising powerful thing).

Shockingly, said email resulted in a response, which I had to respond to. So, now that’s off my plate since I know (because of what was said) it will go no further today.

But, it’s really not off my plate. It’s still eating away at me. Bugging me. I said what needed to be said so it’s not like there’s any nagging, “Oh, I shoulda’ said this!” bumping around my brain. And it’s not like I was smacked down. In fact, it was the opposite. I smacked the other side down (sort of. And, I’m not proud of it. I hate it when I have to do that and can’t work with you as a partner. But, it had to happen, unfortunately). It’s just sort of still sitting there. Hanging around.

In part, that’s my fault. I got worked up and anxious. Not like I was scared or worried but just revved up and ready to go. Ready to battle. Maybe I should have done my primal warrior call to ease the tension. I don’t have one, really, but maybe I should get one. Anyway, the anticipation combined with coffee, never a good thing for me. My heart is still thumping away and shows no signs of slowing down even though it’s over. For now.

Anyway, I find myself unable to write. I know what I need to do in the WIP. In fact, I delete the beginning of Chapter 2, that’s how sure I am, but I can’t seem to find the inspiration. I’m pacing the house, thinking, thinking, thinking. About nothing, actually. I’m just pacing, letting my mind wander and feeling my heart thumping in my chest. I’m deep breathing, I’m doing this blog post, but I’m still a bit crazed.

And, I hate it when that happens. People wonder why my day job is not that of “writer.” I find it hard to explain that I only have a certain amount of creative in me per day. I have no idea if other creative types have this problem, but I do. Once I’ve used up my creative for the day, that’s it, I’m done. If I’ve given it all to a client (or steady job) I can’t do for myself that day.

While technically I did nothing creative this morning, I did have to thing creatively and craft the right response. Angry without being condescending. I think I nailed it. But, as a result, I’m creatively drained right now. Which makes me angry. I had to waste all my creative on something stupid. Well, not stupid. It’s important, but I shouldn’t have to deal with it because it shouldn’t have happened to begin with.

So, I’m using this blog post to vent today, in hopes that I can expel negative energy and get back my creative. See, my fear now is that this negative will end up in the WIP. While that could be a good thing, it’s not really where the MC is in the story and I don’t want to write 2000 or so words today only to have them in the trash. I know that happens a lot, but if I can foresee it happening and avoid it, I’d rather do that.

Or, I could try to use it to my advantage. Maybe the MC is angry today about stupid stuff. Maybe I can channel this into something awesome. Would that mean I have to thank the people that pissed me off today in the book? We’ll see what happens.

ETA: It worked. I got the negative energy out and pumped out about 1500 words today.

When Words Fail

When you’re a writer, people often assume you always have the right words for any moment. They don’t know aboutĀ the whole rough draft/editing/tearing your hair out/throwing it all out and starting over again process. Also, they must not realize there’s a delete key that we use often and when you type something utterly stupid you can delete it and it’s just like you never typed it.

There is no delete key in speaking. Or angry emailing. Or drunk texting.

But, when “things” happen, people sometimes (usually more often than not) turn to you to figure out how to best discuss the situation. That’s not meant to say they expect you to give good advice. I don’t think people think of writers as being like Dr. Phil necessarily. I think that’s there’s a presumption that you’ll easily encapsulate what is happening and say it so eloquently that “no truer words will be spoken.” Or something like that.

Writers don’t always have the right words. We have words, usually lots of them. But they aren’t always the right ones. And, even if they are, there’s our voice. It can be snarky, dismissive, condescending, whatever. The voice, the tone, may not be appropriate for the situation. Sometimes we can’t read a situation, sometimes we don’t really how our words come across and sometimes we use humor and snarkiness to deal with a situation because we are just as uncomfortable dealing with it as everyone else.

It’s hard trying to help someone with something when you can’t really help. When there are no actions you can take, no deeds you can perform to help resolve it. Or solve it. Or ease someone’s pain. In those situations, words are sometimes the only thing you can offer. But, sometimes there are no words. It’s not that writers have a hard time finding the right words it’s that there are no words. No words we can choose from our vast vocabulary to help. No words that can fix it or ease it or resolve it. No words at all. Even with the right tone, all the words are wrong.

For a writer, that’s hard. Words are everything to us. The reason we exist. The reason for getting up in the morning and the reason for breathing. And when they fail us, not through our doing or even their doing, it’s the worst feeling in the world. The one thing we love more than almost anything else, can’t help us. Can’t heal. They fail us.

To avoid an “open mouth insert foot” situation, we stay silent. Don’t be angry. Don’t be hurt. It’s sometimes smarter to stay silent, to avoid making the situation worse. In life, there is no delete key, something we all forget, but something we should all remember. Because sometimes words fail us and we, the writer, don’t want to fail you. We don’t always have the right words. And we don’t always have the delete key. So, we let the silence speak. And it says, “Sorry, there are no words.”

It Feels Like Forever

I tried writing this post about an hour ago, but couldn’t come up with any thing. Every topic that came to mind was either boring or whiny. In some cases, boring and whiny. I decided to be productive while my muse was away (hopefully to someplace sunnier and warmer than here) and get cracking on the holiday cards.

In order to do that I need the list so I know exactly how many pictures to print and in what size. The list is pretty static from year to year, but it’s not like I remember exactly what from year to year, so I need that list in front of me to do this project. It’s a Word document that I update yearly (change addresses based on who’s moved, change names based on marriage, kids, divorce, add you to the list if I think you should have one, subtract you if I think you shouldn’t).

A few months back (May, I think), I got a new computer. Finally. It was running Windows XP and, well, it had seen better days. When I bought the new one, I didn’t get a new monitor because the one I have right now is pretty awesome, still works and I didn’t want to pay whatever it was HP was charging. I figured I’d just pick up a cheap one when I had a chance and go from there. I didn’t worry about it because, if nothing else, I knew I could download whatever I needed from my cloud back-up.

And I downloaded a bunch of stuff from the cloud back in May. Most of it was photographs, so it took forever. Felt like it, anyway. So after 20 hours of restoring (I really don’t think it was that long, I have high speed Internet but it really did predict it would be that long) I got annoyed, downloaded a few important documents and figured I’d get the rest later.

I didn’t really need the other documents, which is cool, I guess, until today. I needed the holiday label list and couldn’t get it from the cloud. I don’t know why. I’m sure it’s because I did something wrong.

So, I had to disconnect the monitor from the new computer and hook it up to the old one and transfer the files to a flash drive and then reconnect the monitor to the new computer to transfer it. Not a huge deal except A) I was sweating by the end. Not so much from the physical labor (though that old hard drive is not light) but from the anxiety of having to deal with my own stupid and B) I disconnected the speaker on the new computer and can’t figure out how to reconnect them. I’m sure I will, but I need music to create. And ambient noise.

Such problems I have.

I figured since it was such a PITA to do all this, I should grab a bunch of files while I’m connected to the old drive because I am not doing this again. And I came across a bunch of old novel writing attempts. If I include what I found on that hard drive with my current attempts, I would say I’ve actually written 5 novels. Four whole novels over the last 7 years.

I don’t know how I feel about this.

On the one hand, not a single one of them has been published and probably never will (a good thing, no doubt). The ideas are solid, I think, but, without even looking at them, I know they are a mess. First drafts are always messy, of course, but these are awful. No sense of plot, structure, or character. TheĀ things that can be kind of important in a novel.

And, it kind of depresses me to think that I’ve been trying to do this for seven years. Sure, I’ve been writing and even getting paid for it, but it’s not novel writing, where my passion lies. And, the way this year has been going, it feels like it might be another 7 years before I even get close.

On the other hand, I feel like I can say, with some amount of confidence, that I’m getting closer. I’ve made a huge effort to learn about plot, structure and conflict. My MC is still a little flat but through my studies I’ve learned that’s OK. Flat character arcs are fine if you’ve got a decent plot. And, I think I’m getting there. Has my writing improved? Some. I’m still not great but it’s better compared to these early attempts.

I doubt I’ll read them. They will probably make me cringe, but it’s nice to know they’re there, prodding me forward. Not in a mocking way, in an encouraging way. Like they’re reminding me to remember that while it’s been a long road, I’ve come a long way. Maybe, for fun, I’ll post some of it and we can all laugh at me together.

That’s all for now. I’ve really got to figure out how to reconnect the speakers to the computer. I need decent audio to work today.