Friday, May 14, 2010

I'm a Blockhead

Isn't it horribly annoying when writers write about writing? Yeah, about that ...

You've probably noticed that I'm not super attentive to the Porch lately. My bad. I'm such a blockhead - a writer's blockhead, specifically. Honestly, this is one of the worst creative blocks I've had in a while. It's not that I'm not writing; it's that I'm not writing well. And if it's not good enough for me, it's not good enough for the people who read me.

Yes, this from the chick who wrote about vajazzling vajajays. Whatever.

Maybe I put too much pressure on myself, but when I do something I care about, I want to do it to the best of my ability - unless it involves house cleaning or morning sex. But I digress. You see, if I were a gymnast, it wouldn't be enough to do a spectacular, gravity-defying flippy twist thingy (I'm sure that's what it's called). I'd also have to stick the landing. Lately, when it comes to writing, I can't stick the landing. I'm totally falling on my ass.

So I'm going to try a few things to get on top of this (that's what she said).

One, I'm going to write every day anyway. One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, dedicated an entire chapter to perfectionism in her brilliant book, Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life. She encourages writers to let go of perfectionism and seek the treasures in the clutter. "Tidiness makes me think of held breath, of suspended animation," Lamott writes, "while writing needs to breathe and move." So I'll breathe. Move. Write. And sometimes not even on facebook.

Two, I'm going to make myself post frequently, even if the pieces suck or are just random little snippets of a tortured, blocked writer. At least then you'll know I'm not lounging on a yacht in the Caribbean having my back oiled by Christian Bale while Hugh Jackman dances suggestively in front of me - because you know that's what I usually do in my spare time.

Three, I'm planning another writing retreat very soon. Last fall, I loaded up all of my nagging, prodding, critiquing, annoying inner voices and hauled them across the state to a quiet place in the hills, and it was exactly what I needed mentally to start this blog. So maybe I need to do it again to rejuvenate and refresh, kind of like Massengill for the mind.

Four, I have bigger stuff stewing that sort of ties in with my retreat.You see, I like to go to the town where my late grandmother grew up and explore. I have always felt an incredibly strong connection to my grandmother, whose life story is fascinating. There's hardship, mystery, adventure, romance, three marriages (three! That hussy!) - and even murder and gypsies in her history. In fact, my mother and I have often said that her life would make an incredible book. So, I'm digging and exploring and contemplating writing a story loosely based on my grandmother's life. Maybe that's the big story inside me - and it has been with me all along.

Five, and this is the tough one for me, I have to write the piece I don't want to write. I suspect the real reason for my ferocious case of block is that another story is simmering inside me, latching on to all the parts of me that string words together and whispering, "Write me. Write me." The problem is, it isn't a story I particularly want to tell. But I'm going to have to buckle down and write it, regardless, even if I am its only audience. Maybe then I will get out of my own way ... and the words will flow again.

If not, I'll be on the yacht with Christian and Hugh, and that's okay, too.

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