Thursday, 20 June 2013

A Drowning Emptiness

You know when you forget how to do something you've always done. That. I'm drowning in that. I'm typing this onto a blank Word page while the Bestwick writes for all he's worth in the kitchen (and I have serious word envy). I'm not supposed to be typing this, I'm supposed to be writing a story, the beginnings of a novella, a novel, anything. Heck, I'd even settle for some bad poetry at the moment.

I've come to a complete stop.

I have time. I'm not complaining about lack of that. Actually, the only thing I'm complaining about is me. Sure, I have more things filling my life at the moment but there is still plenty of space for words. I'm also aware some people have no more than ten minutes here and there to write and they get stuff done in those ten minutes. They get stuff done and their lives are difficult. I can have a long hour stretching ahead of me and all I fill it with is a growing sense of dread and sickness. I lie awake at night sometimes worried that I'll never write again, that something has misfired in my brain. It's possible I suppose.

I've written a sum total of two short stories this year. Two. I used to do that in a week (heck I've been known to do that in a day and sell them to excellent markets). I've also written a short novella (or wait, I may have written that last year - whatever, it certainly wasn't recently). It feels like my head is full of things and yet when it stares at a blank screen or a blank page it's empty. There's not a single word floating around in there.

One thing I'm getting very good at is staring into space. Hopefully something weird and wonderful will float by the window and inspire me or maybe the gremlins will climb from beneath my desk and fix the broken bits in my brain. They need me sitting in my office, at my desk, so they can steal my pens and break things--otherwise they have no purpose.


I don't know if writers block exists. This feels more like writer erosion.

16 comments:

Mark West said...

As someone who suffered terribly from writers block (for 18 months after Dude was born), it is real and it's bloody horrible.

What got me out of it was Gary McMahon asking for a story. That might not be available to you at the moment, but maybe you and Simon could perhaps collaborate on something? Even if it's not for market (but it'd be cool if it was), if he's done his bit then you will find some motivation for your bit and - fingers crossed - you'll be off.

Give it a go!

Hope this helps, you're too good a writer not to break this down!

Cate Gardner said...

Aw, thanks Mark. The Bestwick said he has some books that has helped him in the past so I'm hoping they'll work.

Deborah Walker said...

That sucks. I demand more Cate Garner stories.

So let's work out what's going on. Are you putting words down and they're no good. Or are you not writing any words at all?

My trick is: write down 'I've got writers' block' Over and over again, until I haven't got it. After half a page my muse knows I mean business and starts to pony up different words.

Cate Gardner said...

Mostly not writing anything bar a first sentence and then much hand flapping follows. I shall try the above trick.

Deborah Walker said...

I've just thought of a similar technique that I sometimes use. I type a stream of consciousness down on the document using questions. Let's say you've got a crow, ahem:

What's the collective name for a bunch of crows? Graveyard? Parliament? Can't remember. Anyway too cliche. I don't like that crow's eys. what's he looking at. How do bird's see? What does their vision look like? that crow looks like an unreliable narrator to me. What's his secret? Has he got any brood mates? Has he seen anything he shouldn't have seen? Is he hiding from something. Who's that coming down the road? It's a child, she's wearing a dress of feathers . . . .

Just keep on typing.


Cate Gardner said...

Oh that's a marvellous idea.

James Everington said...

When I get into a similar funk (every few years or so) I think of it like crop rotation - some seasons you have to leave the soil fallow so that the crop for the season after that is even more plentiful.

Cate Gardner said...

Let's hope so, James.

Paul Magnan said...

You'll get through this, Cate. I know you will. I know because I sometimes have to fight what you're fighting now.

It's not easy. It sucks. Even when you have a good idea in your head, something gets lost in translation to your typing fingers. It seems the old spirit is gone.

I've read your stuff, Cate. You're an excellent writer. That's not a line of bullshit because I'm a friend. It's the truth.

Try writing something strictly for yourself. Something silly and unstructured and amusing only to you. Experiment with different styles of writing. I think writing this post was a great start. If you're curious about my take on this issue, click on my "Reconstruction Road" blog link on my Twitter profile, and read "Dealing With Self-Doubt". You are not alone, my friend. :)

Take care. You'll be fine. :)

Cate Gardner said...

Thank you, Paul

graemereynolds said...

I often get the same problem, Cate, and its almost always due to me worrying about it too much. I get the fear - I worry that whatever I write won't be good enough. That the scene I have in my mind won't be done justice when I try and confine it in mere words.
What I've found works for me is to stop overthinking things. Just start writing, not worry if what I produce is shit, or whether it will never see the light of day. You can always go back and edit it later. The important thing, for me anyway, is to get out of my muses way and let her do her thing :)

Cate Gardner said...

It's so good to hear I'm not alone Graeme - not that I wish it on anyone else (I'm sure you know what I mean).

MG Ellington said...

Thinking of you, Cate. I know you will battle this erosion. I can imagine the kind of venus flytraps you might plant to conserve your writerly soil.

For as long as I've known you on LJ you wrote and wrote well. I am a fan too. You will get past this hiccup and be full speed ahead.

Cate Gardner said...

Ah, thank you. I am astounded by how awesome and helpful everyone has been.

Simon Kewin said...

Sounds like you're putting pressure on yourself? Write any old thing with complete acceptance it will most likely be rubbish. But I'll bet you'll find some spark, some nugget of an idea that sets you off for real...

Cate Gardner said...

Rubbish I can do, Simon ;)