Tuesday, May 03, 2011

In Death as in Writing

Tough week and it's only Tuesday. That's what happens when the week begins with death. In this case, the death included Osama Bin Laden and my half-brother Timmy. I'm glad Osama is gone (talk about your anti-climax) and have mixed feelings about Timmy. He's been ill for a year and in the hospital for the past three months, most of which I have spent on the phone with our mother. Well, actually she's his mother and my biological mother and aunt. Figure that one out.

Death takes the wind out of my writing sails. They've been as flat as though I was becalmed in the great Sargasso Sea. It's not like I don't know where I'm going in the latest book, I do. I'm having trouble summoning up the requisite literary energy and discipline to dive back into the book, which I put off because I was launching the print version of my latest self-published work. Here it is May already and I'm stalled when I should be finishing up the first draft of my Victorian gothic tale. April showers are supposed to bring May flowers not May stalls and I am definitely stalled.

Now comes the urge to rant about all the things that are keeping me from writing and none of them are valid. It's as transparent as Cuddy's mom's lawsuit and need for a probate lawyer to change her will because Cuddy and House conspired to heal her. It's never about what you think a fight is about and always about the subtext. Another stall. Maybe I should consider a horse or two with all these stalls and, if I were flying a plane, I'd be right about to hit the hard deck really hard.

I can't concentrate. I have too much to do. I have to work and read review books and write the reviews and keep up my blogs and talk to family and pay the bills and all the little excuses I have always had that didn't stop me when I was writing my last novel or the one before. Then I could focus; now, not so much. I think there is something inherently wrong when a fully realized story with great characters, lots of history and a killer plot can't get written -- by me -- at all. I've been stalling on this one for a while and it's not making me feel any less incompetent or like a fraud and more like a failure every day. Isn't that the way, though? As if I needed an excuse to feel like a fraud. I wonder if other writers feel that way?

Letting out the insecurity without a leash is a bad idea, so scratch everything that came before, except for missing Timmy. He was only forty-eight years old and now he is gone. Finally and completely and no take backs gone. He had such a rotten time of it the past few years. No one should have to feel that way, and yet so many people do, and we're back to fraud again.

I can't seem to shake the excuses, and feeling like a fraud is one of those excuses. I should just shut up and write. It's what I did in the past, churning out mediocre stories with faint glimmers of literary goodness. It shouldn't take this long. It shouldn't be this hard. Writing isn't easy. It's hard work and balancing all the demands of the usually full and busy lifestyle and I no longer have the excuse of children taking up my time. At least then I could write. Things are too quiet. The room's too cold. The wind is coming out of the wrong direction. Anything just so I don't have to sit down and face the blank screen, cursing blink-blink-blinking at me, waiting patiently and mechanically for the next word and the one after that and the one after that . . . . That's how it goes. Some days are up and some days are down and most days the writing gets done, not great writing, but words on the page that will eventually morph into something good. At least that is how I hope it will go and hope blinks eternally in that blasted cursor.

I guess you could say I have nothing to write about, at least not here, and I should just buckle down, get up early, put my fingers on the keys and type. It's what I've always done, turning life into art and pain into tragedy and comedy and everything in between. Getting through the hard days is the trick and I'm all out of tricks, so it's back to the keyboard for something real and tangible. The next word and the next sentence and the next paragraph that leads from half-finished to ready for editing and rewriting. That's how the work gets done.

So, for Timmy, who kept telling me how proud he was that his sister was a writer, this one's for you.

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