Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last Day of Writer's Block

Pretty cocky, posting something like that. After not finishing a novel or even a short story in *seven years* -- though I've written hundreds or maybe even thousands of pages in that time, including three (Four? Five?) half-written novels -- I somehow have never given up on the implausible idea that I don't want to do anything with my life other than write. How can you consider yourself a writer and not write? I don't know.

But that's all over. I recently got a couple of books in the mail that convinced me that it's over. Details later. Even if that information is nonsense, it doesn't matter, because I'm ready.

What did I do all those years, not writing? Haha! I learned to play the piano. I learned to knit, spin and dye my own yarn, and crochet. I sewed stuff for my kids. I made tons of miniatures: miniature food, miniature books, miniature furniture. I gardened and I repaired old dolls. Most recently, I blogged. The creative drive, when bottled up, finds new outlets, as generations of grandmas can attest to.

I may never publish again, and coming to terms with that is, I think, the key.

A lot of people, a lot of writers I respect, don't "believe in" writer's block. Well, they're probably right. There's no such external force stopping otherwise capable people from writing. But there's something. They can come talk to me and I'll tell them all about it.


5 Red Pandas said...

"I may never publish again, and coming to terms with that is, I think, the key."

This reminds me of one of the best pieces of writing advice I've ever been given. It was something along the lines of allowing your first drafts to be "bad" with the idea that it will get better as you edit and revise. I like the idea. I think it also translates to anything creative you try your hand at. This has been true with playing music. I used to get so upset because I wasn't very good at playing the guitar until I didn't care anymore. Once I stopped worrying about being good I was able to get better. Now I'm not good, but I can play some tunes, which is all I ever wanted to do. I wouldn't have progressed if I'd let myself become too frustrated and self conscious.

Also, my friend, who is our band leader, tells us the thing you have to learn to do is correct your mistakes because you're always going to have them. This mostly pertains to playing live, but it's good advice. He's also a big proponent of the experience of writing as its own end aside from publication.

Which isn't to say that a little pressure and drive aren't necessary either, but if there's too much, well that can be problematic.

Good luck Rhian!

rmellis said...

Thanks. It's weird -- I've had lots of great advice, and could probably write a whole book on the subject myself, but it's kind of a matter of taking it and accepting it and not reinventing the wheel. Being humble and having the humbleness to suck.

I felt the same way about playing the piano, though I got over it because I had no baggage about the piano. Being a bad pianist is about 100 times better than not playing at all. So you just play however you can.

TIV: the individual voice said...

I love what you said about grandmothers. Getting over the baggage, yes, that is the thing. I have been crushed by baggage in my life and it reached its peak during my stab at an MFA low-residency program, where everything was very serious, I felt very old, and my teachers had no sense of humor whatsoever. I need my sense of humor more than anything I'm realizing through blogging. And I can't wait to hear more of your details.