Small Conceits

Musings. Stories. Poems. From where I stand.

Writers Block and the 29 Drafts

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I have 29 drafts in my Posts folder.

There are several drafts about the land I purchased in November. For instance, there’s a draft about walking my 11+ acres with a water witch. (A what?! Yeah, it’s pretty cool.) And a draft about the contrasting perspectives of folks from the local extension services and those of a permaculture consultant — and the value they each bring.

Somewhere in that Posts folder are drafts about things I’m learning about living off-grid — things like collecting rainwater and evaluating composting toilets and keeping a woodstove burning. I even have a couple of drafts about what is becoming The Great Yurt Debate — and the part the Health Department plays in that. Oh, and a draft about learning to chop wood, Denise-style, with a video that should prove amusing, if I ever get it edited.

There are drafts of stories and poetry about Bodhi, whose loss I’m still processing. And drafts about the processing itself.

So it’s not that I don’t intend to keep folks updated on how my little adventure is progressing (exciting in dribs and drabs, but mostly a waiting game). It’s not that I don’t intend to honor Bodhi with the tribute I promised you (and him). It’s just that I’m having trouble taking all these drafts through to the “publication” phase. I keep moving from story to story, trying to get something to “work,” and ending up with nothing but a whole bunch of beginnings, a few middles, and some beginnings with endings and no middles.

Which got me thinking about all the different reasons for writer’s block. Again.

Dictionary.com defines it as:

noun

1.

a usually temporary condition in which a writer finds it impossible to proceed with the writing of a
novel, play, or other work.

 

They nailed it with “impossible to proceed.” But “temporary condition,” not so much, in my case. Writers block characterizes my life as a writer. Some of it stems from a lack of faith in myself as an artist, in the value and appeal of the words I write — despite plenty of evidence to the contrary. Some of it also has to do with selling out, with contorting my own, authentic voice to find the “angle,” the “differentiator” in what I write so it stands apart from all the other folks writing about the same things I’m writing about (mostly in my head) — which is two parts marketing taint and one part defeatism. And, yeah, I also suffer from a kind of perfectionism when it comes to my writing.

Mostly, though, it has to do with this weird dynamic that plays itself out with many of us who suffer from clinical anxiety (as I do): I have to give myself permission, which I won’t do until I finish the things I’m “supposed to do” as someone’s definition of a Responsible Adult.

Let that sink in. I have to give myself permission to write.

You see, if it doesn’t make money, it’s not responsible. If it doesn’t further my career or win new clients, it’s not responsible. If it doesn’t walk the dog, clean the house, do the grocery shopping, do the accounting, run errands, answer emails, research problems, cook, or perform miracles of healing and empowerment, it’s not responsible and I find it “impossible to proceed.”

Here’s the Catch-22: I procrastinate on all that other stuff because I want to write.

And the irony of it all is that my writing could be profitable, if I’d ever finish anything I write and send it out to anyone who does real publishing, which would combine being a Responsible Adult with being the creative writer I keep beating into submission with definitions that don’t fit or serve me.

So, to all of you who have been asking me how things are going: Mostly well! And to those of you who have encouraged me to write, well…I’m writing. I’m just not letting anyone see any of it. For now.

I’m going to go bake some brownies now. Because I have five spreadsheets to review, a website to build, a dog who needs a walk, a bunch of tax forms I need to fill out for my accountant, and some surveys I need to email to the first darned road grader I’ve managed to get an appointment with in three months. (Yeah, that’s part of the adventure, too: Contractors are booked solid, including folks who grade roads and clear homesites, which is the very thing standing in the way of ALL the other things.)

After that, I think I’m going to drink some wine and try to forget that I want to write. It’s gonna take a lot of wine.


Clicks “Publish” and reflects on the nature of irony…

Author: Denise

I'm Denise. I believe that stories lurk in all the tiny moments that make up our everyday lives. They wait, curled into themselves, until someone finds them and jailbreaks them, leading them out into the light. And there's always a story.

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