Return of the Writer

Let me share something with you. Something not joyous, or glad: for the past couple months, I’ve been struggling to find the joy in writing. I’ve been feeling tapped out, and tired. Since returning from Viable Paradise, my life’s been a three ring circus, with illness, travel, recuperation, holidays, holiday-related chaos, more illness, more travel, and more holidays. My writing time took a nose-dive, but I’d planned on that happening, so it didn’t scare me. What bothered me was that, when I had a moment to breath, or time to actually write, I couldn’t come up with any ideas. None. Zip. My well seemed truly dry and empty. And that scared me.

So it was with trepidation that I faced the new year, and life’s return to “normal” scheduling. Where would the ideas come from? Would they come, or was I done? I fretted while trying not to think about it.

The day came when I returned to my desk, my computer, and my writing schedule. For a couple days, I edited the last story I’d finished, getting back into the flow of words. Then, I turned to a new Scrivener file and stared at the blank screen. No ideas. The old ones in my Ideas folder just didn’t hold my attention. The in-progress story I’d left to finish now bored me to tears. Clammy fingers crawled into my stomach and twirled. Gods, no! Not this, not now.

I remembered seeing a  post on another author’s blog with a writing prompt that had, a couple weeks ago, sounded interesting. I went there and re-read the old (2 years?) prompt. It was multi-faceted, combining 5 separate elements. An idea clicked, and another meshed with it. The rest fell away, but it didn’t matter. I had an idea, and I started writing. After two days, it was done. I was happy. Relieved, and happy.

What’s more, the post contained other prompts that niggled at my brain. I went back and wrote them down. Immediately a story jumped out at me. I worked it out a bit, then waited for the new file to open, etc., and yet another idea leapt at me from a part that I’d left out of the first one. Ack, no! Not two at once. No! I rushed to capture that idea blob, unformed as it was. Every idea is precious! It fills the dry well, primes the pump.

This was on Wednesday, and I had signed up for a flash-fiction writing contest over the weekend, so I knew I’d be writing something (however terrible) between Friday evening and Sunday night. Suddenly my time was at a premium. I did write that story, and it didn’t suck. I felt giddy. Excited. And a story and a half were waiting for my return.

Yesterday the weather was mild–warm, even. After a weekend tucked behind my computer, I decided to take a walk. I turned all thoughts away from writing. The Novel That Isn’t has been consuming me, making me uneasy. It scares me, quite honestly. All that time committed to this project that will, most likely, sit on my computer forever. And I don’t even have a solid grip on it, yet–ACK!! It’s what I’d been fretting over during the “holiday break.”

Finally, I decided to consider one small aspect of it: POV. What POV should it be? Well, that depends on the story itself, of course. Oh, this was like trying to say where a circle begins and ends! Argh. Fine, then. What books that I’ve like recently used what POVs? I enumerated those. This got me thinking about multiple POVs in a novel, which I haven’t done yet. It seemed a nice challenge. But of course, you’d need the right story for it. Back to this again.

And then, I slipped into that thinking without planning state. Considering, questing, trying. And I came up with a barest-bones skeleton of a plot upon which depend (and vice-versa, I can’t say which came first, really) two entangled characters, and a novel which must be told in their alternating POVs.

OMG, did I really just say that? Yes. I did. On the way out of the forest, after I’d wrestled this monster up from the depths of my subconscious and put a bit of meat on its bones, I turned away again, to enjoy the scenery, such as it was. And another little tickle turned into a character, and her antithesis: the beginning of a short story. I don’t know where it will go, but it’s interesting.

As I walked across the sunny field to my car, I almost ducked down, away from the ideas  buffeting about my head like moths around a lantern’s glass. I smiled. And I’m still smiling. My well is primed again. I’m feeling refilled, re-energized, and ready to write.

If you’re struggling, hang in there. Give yourself time, and space. Permission to try, to fail, and to continue anyway. I always suggest taking a walk; it works for me. If you have any great resources or suggestions for overcoming fear, block, or whatever, leave a comment.

And have a Happy New Year, indeed. 🙂

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About M.E. Garber

I'm an itinerant Ohio-born speculative fiction writer now living in north central Florida.
This entry was posted in Personal Life, Rejection, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Return of the Writer

  1. Congratulations, Mary!

    Something else to consider if you get blocked again. Come on out to one of our meetings (or book groups). I know it’s a hike, but Gregor made it on Saturday and not only got a great talk on Tolkien, he also had an idea for a story. Hope to see you soon.

    Phil

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  2. Beth T. says:

    I’m sorry you had a rough run but hooray for the new enthusiasm and ideas! (And holler if you need a shoulder sometime!)

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  3. Glad you got your Writing Juju back Mary. I think all of us know that feeling and you correctly point to “time and space” as the solution. Best of luck with all of your projects!

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  4. I’m so happy for you, Mary! Your writing came back.
    I’m in that space of nothingness you described and I tell myself it’ll change, just give it time and space. So, for myself, too, it’s good to hear that others who have walked this desolate terrain have found their way out.
    You submitted to the Weekend Warrior challenge? Woohoo! I’m newly joined to the site (thought I saw your name!).

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    • M.E. Garber says:

      Woot on joining Codex! I, too, thought I saw your name when I browsed the intro site. Congrats and welcome (again).

      You *can* exit this space. This was my method, FWIW. Writing prompts, no ” thinking” about complexities, just writing. And walking. And finding out what’s *really* bothering you. For me, it was that novel. Sigh. Good luck, and let me suggest Weekend Warriors as a great place to have fun writing…

      >

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