My writing…is NOT going so well

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My writing is not going so well. The cynical side of me asserts that this means most of my writing friends and peers are happy, through their crocodile tears, to hear that fact. One writer bites the dust, and there’s one more crumb of the “successful writing cake” to go around the hungry writing crowd.

The optimistic side says that writing friends are the ones who will empathize most with this feeling of writerly failure. No one else understands the grief of feeling words slip through their fingers, of staring at a blank page on Word for hours…and hours.

My writing is a bunch of shit. It’s awkward, the characters aren’t fully developed, and I can’t figure out how to get them there, either. The words aren’t flowing, and nothing feels right. Now I understand why so many writers drink. And do drugs. Or become total recluses.

When I stare at the page, helpless, not knowing my own characters, not finding the right words, not having a command for the story’s landscape, I just feel so worthless. I feel like nothing. No, I don’t feel like nothing–I feel like a piece of aged dog turd, just one day from dissipating into dust. Some days I’m too exhausted to write, some days I don’t even know the writer I used to be. I’m working with a new brain that I can’t figure out. I’m so discouraged.

One minute I’m walking through a parking lot, the next minute, a part of my brain is dead, and I’ve lost the ability to read and write (let alone remember), and I get to spend the next year learning to write again, only to realize I now write differently and I’m starting all over again as a new writer. When the writing goes so poorly, for so long, I want to kill myself. When I realize how much has changed and how little control I have over these changes, well you get it–I hate being alive.

I struggle. I think, “I don’t want to kill myself,” and consider killing the character off instead. I have that power. But I have tons of doubt–it doesn’t fit the story to kill the character. And before you say, “Go for it, Jade! Kill the character!” No. It doesn’t fit the story, really. And before you say, “It’s okay…”–it is NOT OKAY. It’s not okay. I don’t want to kill myself, and yet the story does not move forward, I feel like a total failure.

So I’m a failure that is alive and wants to live. I’m one of the millions of people on this earth just using up the oxygen. If I don’t write, what the hell am I on earth for?

I’m hoping this will all pass quickly. I think I’ve got to just ride out the storm. Or the stillness, in this case.

But in sum–it SUCKS. It’s HELL.

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “My writing…is NOT going so well

  1. I too have written self-depreciating, anger, disgust, and nearly hatred of myself. Sometimes it is hard to see the value in yourself when you are not producing anything. Since birth, amount produced = self value is beaten into our heads by our parents, by our culture, until we feel our very existence is only measured via our accomplishments in life. You’re not worthless and neither am I. We are the ones struggling to find our niche’ in life. And while we search and struggle, and hate ourselves for not producing enough widgets this week, life happens all around us but we are blind to our value, our contribution. I could show you posts from my blog named ‘project sad’ a journal of my journey through divorce, the loss of my job, the loss of my health, the loss of my friends, the loss of respect from everyone in my family. In that blog I wrote things about how I should go, will a blade cut, will a gun blast, will the car run in the garage, will I go out with a blast, or will I fall asleep and drift out of this world…. So I’ve gone through loosing everything. Except I’m lucky, we had a beach place that we sold in the divorce, so I had enough money to buy a house in the same neighborhood so my kids can walk back and forth between the homes. I have them half the time. I love them dearly but they are more than I can handle and by the time my custody is done for the week, I am thankful their visit with me is over. I hate myself for that as well. I didn’t want to write too much about myself here… I wanted to lend support and let you know that you are not alone. I wanted to let you know that others struggle with the same issues as you and that our perspective of self-value is blinded while we beat ourselves up for not filling our quota of widgets. It’s hard to communicate how clearly I see myself reflected in how you rip yourself apart. No one hates us as much as we hate ourselves. For wasting the opportunity this life provided, for missing the boat when we were given a better opportunity at success than others. College educations, money bought time and intelligence, but when it comes time to produce, I can’t put everything together. —————————– After my divorce I wrote all kinds of stuff. I used my blog to vent my feelings. Since then I’ve forgiven my X and now am able to enjoy her company when we occasionally run into each other as the children swap homes. I watch her run off and run around while I just sit around all the time. I’m recluse I guess. I only spend time with my kids. I’m still exhausted by the time they leave. I fight with doctors and insurance companies daily and I stay up all night trying to put my blog together. The blog started because I wanted to be able to show something for my time. I don’t watch TV because I don’t want to get caught up in any kind of time waster. Anyway, now I don’t write such harsh things about myself. Life isn’t that bad, I’ve been able to find some joy. I’m still screwed up but I’m not at the bottom. I just wanted you to know that right now you are at the very bottom and things are going to get better. If you could turn your antagonist into someone with your anger and just try to imagine how that could manifest itself and put together a situation that dovetails nicely into a vent for that anger. After going through this I no longer flinch when I hear about some mother drowning her children or some postman gunning up his office. They were angry like I was and circumstances presented themselves in a situation where their anger needed to vent. I hope that helps some. Remember your anger and your darkness are things that most people have to face at some point in their lives. You are not alone. Just hang in there. I’m still suffering but not like I was. You must step back from your work for a bit so you can reset your mental perspective. Give yourself permission to do something fun or exciting. Drive from one coast to the other, or go buy something that you really like and enjoy it for a while. I hope my words are not useless, you are more than your life’s work. It is enough to exist. Yours, Ethan

  2. Hang in there. And keep writing, even if it means writing all of your demons out of public domain, over and over again. This will all pass, I know it sounds so lame and trite but this is true. When you’re hitting bottom about the whole craptasticness of it all (I know it’s not a word but whatev), you’ll find something amazing. This happens to me constantly, I’m at the end of my rope fully cried out and accepting of the suckage and then suddenly out of nowhere something I needed will show up. I’m not saying The Muse will come out of nowhere, but maybe something else you really, really need will come to you instead. In the meantime, feel better about yourself. Grieving and growing takes time.

  3. As one of your writer friends, I can assure you that no matter how difficult a time you’re having, it’s not making my writing any better or any easier, so no, I’m not thinking, “Yee haw! Jade’s struggling! Now I will get my book done!” On the other hand, why I think your writer friends MAY enjoy reading about your struggles is that it makes us feel like we’re not alone – because we all struggle, we all have doubts and we all think we suck.

    On another note, have you thought about writing ABOUT your struggle, about the stroke and how it’s affected your writing? An essay maybe? Cathryn Ramin, in Carved in Sand, writes about her memory problems (I haven’t read it yet, but she took a very frustrating problem that was affecting her writing and turned it into a book.)

  4. Eve

    Jade, I’m going to give you advice because it’s the other way I know of saying, “I care, and I’m sorry” (the first way being to say, “I care, and I’m sorry you’re suffering”).

    I just finished re-reading Stephen King’s book, “On Writing,” and I just love his attitude toward the life of the characters. Depth psychologist James Hillman, too, has written at length about allowing characters to come alive (and, presumably, to kill themselves). If a character’s suicide (or a murder) doesn’t fit your story, why not start a new one and let the character who’s dying to speak or act, actually do so? (pun intended)

    And no real writer is going to gloat or be happy about another writer’s block; that’s because we know there are universes inside each of us and there’s no shortage of creativity in the universe, no limit; your block is not going to help me or hurt me.

    We all see your words flowing out here. Seems you may be judging yourself for “only” writing well here; as if what your soul wants to do here or elsewhere is wrong or bad; as if the only “right” way to write is to finish the darn thing you say needs to be finished, your way.

    Where does that come from? What’s really happening? Get down and roll around in the mud with all that anguish and see what comes out. Maybe your muse isn’t into fiction this month or this year. I say honor the muse and work *with* her, hold her hand, follow her and see what happens. Don’t give up! And thanks so very much for writing honestly and sharing yourself. ❤ Eve

  5. Jade, I’m sorry this sucks so bad right now. And I totally agree with Bustopher – believe me, your writer friends are not jumping up in down with glee that you’re having a tough writing time. I don’t believe in the writer cake thing. There are infinite slices and crumbs for everyone.

    I also think that there is a lot of validity in what Eve says: maybe your muse isn’t into fiction. Your muse has been TOTALLY into blogging all throughout this ordeal of a past year. Your muse rocks at nonfiction. I haven’t seen any of your fiction so I can’t speak to that, but I really do think you have a thriving gift at nonfiction in this moment. Maybe that is where your muse is leading you.

    (or a very thinly veiled piece of fiction about a writer who suffers a stroke and other tragic events in a short period of time, and how she struggles with those things)

  6. Thanks for your support, everyone…it’ll get better soon.

  7. hyun

    No doubt what you are feeling these days doesn’t suck. But I say if life is hard and everything just blows, that’s how it is, for the time being. If one thing is for certain, we humans can’t remain the same forever, and this period in your life will change. In the meantime, let out your frustrations, your readers can feel bad, sympathetic and want to make you feel better, because that’s what compassionate people do, but don’t hasten or stunt your grieving period for our sake. Unleash the four letter words; get them out of you, let it out.

  8. Thank you, hyun–I know you all want to make me feel better and that you don’t necessarily have the power to make all things right for me and I thank you for acknowledging all of that and more. And I thank you all for putting good words and thoughts in for me.

    It’ll get better. I think I’ve pinpointed a few pressure points when it comes to my writing environment these days and once I get used to them, it will get better.

  9. heather

    hey–for better or for worse, i’m right there with you. today is the first day i’ve done any writing or revising in weeks. instead, i’ve been on the couch, grousing and whining about how much i need to write, and in the meantime too paralyzed with fear to do it. i suppose we don’t “choose” this life, it chooses us, but damn i hate it sometimes!!

    i’m also consumed with jealousy for my fellow writers in my MFA program, since i’m not in any workshops and i keep thinking they have all figured out something i haven’t. deep down, i know we’re all in the same boat–wringing the sweat and blood out of our shirts, just for a good word, a line, a plot–but right now i can only feel my own blood, sweat and tears.

  10. Writer’s block always passes… I’m sure you’ll find inspiration in some little thing that transpires in your day. Sometimes you have to hammer away at it until something trickles, and hammer away some more until you have a flood! 🙂

  11. heather: I hope you have made progress, that a trickle has started to form. It really really REALLY sucks to just sit in front of the computer screen, announce to The Muse, “I’m ready!” and then…nothing. And then do that the next day, to no results. And the day after that. Awful. It sucks that you’re going through it too.

    Kimchihead: yep, it does pass. but the wait is agonizing.

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