Oh, this blog.
I wanted to write about not writing. Or, rather, about writing again. But in order to write about writing again, I need to write about not writing first. And yes, that sentence, I did it on purpose. (I’m a professional. Don’t try this at home.)
I’ve written about writer’s block in this space before, openly, wistfully, graphically, metaphorically, and I wanted to recall those posts when I started this one, so I’ve been looking through the archives. Let me tell you, it breaks my heart. It only takes a few clicks to go back five years in this blog, because there’s so little there. Such stuttering efforts to recapture the creativity of when this blog was in its prime—photography, creative journaling, drawing, poetry. Even when I was writing about not writing, I was writing with artistry and poignancy.
This blog (and its antecedents, going back to 2002) has always been a creative undertaking. The act of organizing my thoughts into something fit for public consumption was transformative—it made me think deeper and more coherently about what I wanted to say, or the experience I wanted to share. It brought me to a greater understanding of myself and of my relationship with the world. As I delved more and more into visual expression, the blog challenged me, because I wanted to show my growth as an artist. This growth reverberated throughout my writing, not just on the blog, but in the fiction I was working on at the time, as well.
And then, in 2011, I forgot how to write all together.
Not really, of course. The skill was still there, the techniques needed to string words together in pleasing or at least comprehensible ways.
What I lost was the ability to dig into my heart with a pen and pull out words that flowed onto the page with grace and beauty and power. I lost the passion that drove me to create characters, worlds, stories. I could force myself to sit and do it, sometimes, but it was a strain in a way that writing never was before. There was no joy in the process, and the work showed it. If you don’t love what you’re writing, no one else is going to either.
I stopped trying, eventually. Of course I did. You can’t keep doing something that’s making you miserable. I became stuck in a self-defeating cycle of not writing because I was depressed, and being depressed because I wasn’t writing.*
But I don’t really want linger any longer on the “dark years” (if only to spare you the tortured metaphors) except to say that it was a long slide down, and an even longer climb back up.
Instead, let’s just skip over to the happy part where I get to say that, yes! I am writing again!
In fact, I think it’s safe to say that I’ve accomplished more writing in 2018 than I have since at least 2010** and possibly ever.
Here’s what I’ve been working on in the last year and a half:
- Two short stories. One is brand new, and still waiting on revisions. The second is something I wrote a while back that I revised this year, and is currently sitting on a slush pile (fingers crossed!).
- Five City of Bridges posts. City of Bridges was the I’m-going-to-write-if-it-kills-me project that I started at the beginning of my 2011 creative crash. I managed to eek out some tolerable bits of fiction here and there, but considering that what I’ve written just this year amounts to a full third of the story content on the site, you can see that I wasn’t very productive during its first six years. I’d be pleased as punch if you were to read what’s new, and maybe leave a comment or two! The new posts are:
Boys’ Night Part 1
Boys’ Night Part 2
The Nature of the Beast
- A bunch of free-writing starters based on prompts. A couple of these are ideas I plan on developing into stories. Others I might share here, because they’re fun little tidbits. I want to acknowledge them because, even though I haven’t done any in the last few months, they were vital to getting my writing mind back into motion.
- Three novels. Wait, what? OK, that’s not strictly true. But I wanted to acknowledge that I developed three different novel ideas during the last 18 months. During my drought, I couldn’t engage with any story ideas at all, so having three different new stories, with all their varied characters and worlds, take up residence in my brain was really exciting for me.
- One actual novel. I have been actually pursuing one of these novel ideas quite aggressively since mid-April, and finished an 80,000 word “zero draft” in September. I’m working on rewriting now, at a somewhat slower pace, but I’m still really enamored with the story, which is easily my longest work to date. It’s set in the same world as City of Bridges, maybe ten years in the future, and features some of the same characters.*** I’m so excited that I even commissioned character art!!**** It’s hard work (especially having to squeeze in writing time at the end of a long day) and even though my writing is not yet at the level it was B.C.C.*****, I’m actually enjoying the process. Which, at this point, is the main accomplishment.
The only thing that’s escaped my writing renaissance is this blog. In fact, I’ve got maybe a half a dozen incomplete blog posts lingering in Evernote that I never got around to finishing. I’m trying to figure out how to get back into the routine of blogging more regularly, because I really did find it beneficial back in the day. Time, as with so many things, is the relevant issue. There’s only so many hours in the day, and so much I want to accomplish.
In the meantime, the best place to keep up to date with me is Instagram, where you’ll get to see lots of my crochet projects and other odds and ends. I have a Twitter, and even though that place really can’t hold my attention for more than a few minutes a day, I do update when there’s new City of Bridges and (hopefully) posts at this blog, if you want to follow me there. I took a month off Facebook in September 2017 and haven’t been back since—I’m not sure when I’ll dive back into that platform, but maybe sometime in 2019.With that, I’m going to sign off. Hope to see you back here soon!
*The kind of depression from life being kinda sucky for a long time, not really clinical depression.
**Not counting day job writing. We’re only talking creative projects here.
***Long-time followers will know that City of Bridges was actually conceived of as a prequel to the Nanowrimo novel I wrote in 2003, Three of Swords, which I finished but deemed not worth rewriting. This novel returns to that original story, though aside from the main characters and the world, very little remains the same.
****I’d be remiss not pointing out that my friend Elise gifted me with two of these portraits, as a way of encouraging me to keep going. I have them on my phone lock screen and on the desktop of my PC, and they inspire me to keep working every day…especially Elerrin with that side eye! The art is by the talented Monolime.
****Before Creative Crash.