Gayle Hayes, Author

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IS THERE ANYTHING WORSE THAN NOT WRITING?

 
 
    As it turns out, there's something worse than setting aside my writing while I tend to other things.
    When I'm in writing mode, I often feel resentful and frustrated when I'm interrupted.  Didn't I just prepare lunch, clear the table, and load the dishwasher?  How could it be time to start dinner already?  As I'm fishing in the freezer for a package of pork chops, I hear the cheerful tune alerting that the dryer is finished.  Pork chops go into the microwave while I quickly fold clothes into the basket with just enough care so they do not wrinkle while I go back to the kitchen to continue with dinner preparations. Later, on my way to the garage with the garbage, I see the bunny's litter pan needs cleaning.  I do not despair, because I have a goal.  The interruptions just prove how important my writing is to me.
    After an agonizing period when I felt I would never write again, an idea for a novel about the colorful history of my hometown came to me out of the blue.  I experienced a surge of energy and woke each day eager to pursue my new goal.  I made two trips to research in the archives.  I purchased several books about the history.  Then I devised a timeline and made notes on it while I read.  I finished the fourth of six books about Butte just in time to put my research aside so I could get organized for our long trip to the Oregon Coast.
    Six weeks later, I was back home cleaning and restocking our RV for another trip.  I would have been content to stay at home, but my husband wanted to go to our favorite place at the lake.  He'd been so patient last spring, in spite of his cabin fever when I was researching, that I felt he deserved my attention now.  Besides, I knew I had a goal, and I'd get back to it once the RV was put to bed for the winter. 
    After two more weeks, we were home again.  The RV was cleaned again, unpacked, and winterized.  I tackled the emails that had accumulated while I was not online with my laptop.  This was complicated by Microsoft changing the Live.com email program while I was gone.  I have the same emails on my phone, laptop, and the Cloud.  Three times the aggravation.  To make matters worse, I was fighting a bug.  I hurt everywhere and just wanted to lie in bed in the morning.  Then I lost my internet access and an entire morning to a tech support person.  I took it all in stride.  I had a writing goal, and I'd get to it soon.
    Once I felt better, I started cleaning and reorganizing my office while I waited for my husband to embark on his hunting trip.  It was no use writing before he left, because he sticks his head into the office every so often to ask if I have enough of something that he can take some of it hunting and avoid a trip to the grocery.  Then his departure hung on a hunting partner who was unsure when he could leave.  I stopped work in my office to prepare a late lunch/early dinner meal for him.  Finally, my husband was off to hunt pheasants.  I had one more large task before I could get back to my writing goal.
    You will be relieved to know I clean the entire house once a year whether it needs it or not.  If the house were alive, it would be on all fours begging to be cleaned.  Once a year I clean all the places I'd want clean if I were to die suddenly and strangers came by to console my husband.  While I'm on my hands and knees with a yardstick and tac rag scouring the floor under the dryer, I remember that it has now been more than two months since I put my writing goal on hold to tend to real life.  However, with windows open during the summer, the house has accumulated the corpses of various fly hatches along with dirt from open windows, cobwebs, and dust bunnies almost as big as our real bunny.  I actually enjoy cleaning, and I know I'll get to my writing goal as soon as I finish.
    While tending to other things, my mind is never far from my writing.  I have decided that while I research my big historical novel project, I should write something shorter for the practice.  So, I open my computer file of photos that sparked my creativity when we were traveling.  I crop one and position it alongside a blank word document I title, Story Prompt.  My mind is a black hole.  So, I start typing a series of sentences describing the significance of the photo.  Nothing clicks.  I must have at least six good premises for a story based upon the photo, but none of them interest me.
    After revisiting my Story Prompt for several days and forcing myself to write something about it before I give up and begin reading someone else's work, I realize the Story Prompt is not the problem.  It's me.   I feel nothing.  A vast wasteland lies between my ears.  Then a word comes to me from my high school English class.  I remember our formidable English teacher using the word often.  She was built like a tank with long thinning black hair and intense blue eyes.  She could have been a drill sergeant.  The word, ennui, meant nothing to me then.  Now, I go online to be sure I understand the meaning of ennui.  The following is from the Merriam Webster online dictionary: the kind of ennui that comes from having too much time on one's hands and too little will to find something productive to do.
    There was a time a few weeks ago when I would've said this was not my problem.  I had no time at all, let alone too much time.  I had the will to work on my writing goal, but I simply could not make time for it.  Now, I knew ennui described my predicament perfectly.  I had lost the will to write.  Nothing interested me.  I was bored by everything that I had once enjoyed.  Facebook posts seemed like desperate attempts for attention.  Tweets were mostly tiresome plugs for books or pat prescriptions for self-motivation.  I could think of nothing worth posting or tweeting.  How creative was I if I could not manage something as simple as Facebook and Twitter? 
    Feeling dull, lifeless, and apathetic, I forced myself to sit at my laptop and write a blog post.  Occasionally, a Twitter pal tweets the link to my blog to say, "Thanks for the retweet."   I have not posted anything to my blog since March.  It gets embarrassing.  This is something I really need to take care of instead of conjuring the enthusiasm for a make-believe story.  This is a matter of necessity.  I decide to help my fellow authors by writing about a real and vexing problem.
    In the process of writing about my own lack of motivation to write, I find I easily write almost fifteen hundred words in spite of several interruptions that would've been irritating at one time.  My husband wandered into my office to tell me about the status of childbearing in Japan.  Then I realized it was time to prepare lunch.  When I was back to work on my blog post, my husband interrupted again because he could not find a sweater in the master closet.  I had rearranged it during my fall cleaning campaign.  However, these interruptions didn't faze me.  I had started writing again.  I no longer felt dull and apathetic.  My synapses were doing whatever synapses do.   I knew I'd get back to being creative again. 
    There's only one thing worse than setting aside my writing while I tend to other things.  It's not caring if I write at all.


2 comments:

  1. Just glad that Jan Romes pointed me here,what a charming blog...and isn't writer's apathy/block a bitch to deal with?

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    Replies
    1. Michael,
      Thank you so much for your comment. You are the first person to comment on my blog, and you have reminded me why I wanted to write and publish in the first place. Connecting with a reader is a priceless reward. Jan was sweet to send you my way, and I'll let her know I appreciate it. I hope you'll return. My best wishes that all your writing dreams come true.

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