On coping with writer’s block (or the lies we tell ourselves along the way)

Black coffee and cigarettes

writing 2

I haven’t written for a very long time.

I joined a creative writing class a while ago to help me through my ‘writer’s block’ – can you call yourself a writer if you don’t write? – and I managed to produce a total of 500 words over the entire four-week course. A paltry amount by any standards, though the course itself was brilliant.

One of the suggestions from my fellow writers was to write about why I don’t write. I’ve been thinking a lot about the reasons I don’t write lately so this seemed as good a place to kick off my writing again as any. And also address why I call myself a writer in the first place – a hard sell in the writing void of the last few months.

In my professional life, I have been a public relations consultant, a journalist and now, an editor. Words…

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Stonehenge

Tatterhood

ruin:

/ˈruːɪn/

noun

1. 
the physical destruction or disintegration of something or the state of disintegrating or being destroyed.

What is the difference between the living and the dead?

On the surface, it is a simple question. At least, when it comes to our fellow humans (and other sentient beings) we are fairly good at differentiating. Breath, color, language, movement.

But what about stone? What about the rocks we shape and move; worship; commemorate; celebrate?

Whom among us can deny the spirit of a gravestone? Who could gaze upon the structure of Stonehenge and not hear the echoes of those ancient, well-kept secrets?

Well, as it turns out, there are plenty of people who can and do. I really don’t want to come off as condescending here, but my trip to Stonehenge today was, largely, infuriating. I stood on the circular path that encloses the site and watched hundreds…

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Angry with God….

angry with god

One of my favorite movie scenes is from Forest Gump, when Lt. Dan rages from the crow’s nest of his shrimp boat in the middle of a hurricane, shaking his fist at the heavens. Feeling betrayed by God, the universe, and life comes naturally to us, I think. It certainly does for me.

LT Dan

A central tenet of Christianity is the acceptance of God’s supremacy, and that in the end “all things work according to the good.” When looking at hurricanes, genocides,  and war, it is impossible for me to understand how these can be good. I can’t wrap my head around it, because it seems unjust. I grapple with these things on an intellectual level, but in the end I retreat into a leap of faith, admitting that a power as vast as God must be, there is no possible way I can understand the infinite permutations of destiny, the colorful threads connecting a universe larger than my puny mind can comprehend. When it’s personal, though, is when it becomes dangerous for me. My faith is not strong enough.

I recognize the futility of it. I understand there is no arguing with God, and that nothing good can possibly come of the attempt. And still I’m guilty of it. I look around at things, and I say to myself, “that’s not fair. Why?” It is ultimately a selfish emotion, at its root, even if it is couched in compassion. What I’m truly saying is “Why Me?” Which is absurd, human, and a bit pathetic.

I had a discussion recently with a Godly man, a much wiser one than I. I told him I was feeling rankled with God. ” Yes, I’ve made some big mistakes, made some dumb decisions, I said. I’m trying hard to rely on God, and I’m not seeing any improvements. In fact, things are getting worse.”

“I see,” he said, nodding his head. “So you’re angry with God because of things you did, and now you’re upset because He’s not fixing things as quickly as you like? Did I get that right.”

I had to sheepishly agree with him, and recognizing that made me feel a bit better. There are consequences. Perhaps it’s not God’s role to make those go away.

Sunrise

I’m working at focusing on the good, seeking out the light, and infusing my life with a greater sense of gratitude, for anger is a poison in our veins, a killing toxin. A life bereft of hope is tragic and lonely. I’m lowering my fist.

 

 

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Books Will Never Die

Wandering Bark Books

Last week, Mireille Silcoff wrote an article for The New York Times: On Their Death Bed, Books Have Finally Become Sexy.

Given that I recently published a blog post, “Sexiest Book Alive,” I took issue with the idea that physical books have ever NOT been sexy. Then I read the piece, and I took serious issue with some other things, indeed.

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How many words do you write a day? And do you have to force yourself? How successful authors do it

Great article. Every writer is different.

Nail Your Novel

Dave writing This question appeared in my inbox from Adam Nicholls after I reported on Facebook that I’d managed 4,000 words of The Mountains Novel in one day. Adam DMd me, in not a little anguish:

How many words do you write per day? And do you have to force yourself to do it? I love writing, but it’s work.

There are two significant points in this question:

  • output; books growing steadily at a satisfactory rate
  • difficulty.

How many words per day?

I asked this question of a group I’m a member of, The League of Extraordinary Authors. Romance author Melissa Foster says she has no difficulty getting 7,000 to 10,000 words written in a day and that she adores the blank page. No issues with output there. (But there’s more to writing a good novel than stacking up the wordcount, as she points out in the comments below.)

Romance author

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