Earlier today I spent some time reading back through my blog archives. I was alternatively amazed and alarmed both by the prolific nature of some of the posts and, in some cases, by how much I actually enjoyed reading my own writing. It has been quite a while since I’ve written in anything other than a drudging almost resentful manner, and I can’t remember the last time I actually laughed reading something I had written.
I used to think of writer’s block as an ailment akin to allergies. These unfortunate predicaments struck other people and were probably avoidable if one just refused to acknowledge them as possibilities. In other words, I saw writer’s block (and allergies) as some personal failures attributable to moral weakness or lack of discipline.
And yet, here I am in my 40th decade, and it can’t be denied. At some point this spring, I am going to start sneezing and walking around with a scratchy throat. And, oh yes, I’m pretty sure I have writer’s block.
I know this isn’t due to lack of discipline. As I am constantly hectoring my students to do, I sit down daily to write. I write daily. I continue to publish, although with a sort of grudging attitude. I do not laugh when I read anything I’ve written. I mostly sigh. I have lost my mojo—misplaced it, anyway. I have misplaced my mojo.
These are a few of the conversations I have with myself (silently) quite often:
ME: Why don’t you just stop writing, then? You clearly don’t enjoy it.
ME: I can’t do that.
ME: Why not?
ME: Shut up
ME: This thing you’re writing could be good…it’s a good idea, anyway. You’re not really pulling it off.
ME: I’m so hungry.
ME: No, you’re not. Just keep working on it. I mean, it sucks, but better to have it be finished and suck, then just be another half-finished piece of suck.
ME: Shut up.
In between berating myself and telling myself to shut up, I have been writing. I have one short story out somewhere, awaiting rejection, a novel out there, awaiting rejection and a series of non-rejected pieces of journalism on various websites because, well, because you know why.
ME: Maybe you spent too many years as a newspaper editor and now it’s over. You’ve killed whatever talent you have for actual creative writing. You know what they say? Those who can’t, teach.
ME: Do you think talent can actually be killed?
ME How the hell do I know? Just shut up.
Part of my writer’s block stems, I think, from some weird-self-imposed gag I’ve placed on too many topics. At a certain point at the Reporter, I just stopped writing because I was so sick of the haters out there (yes, the haters won). I would like to write about teaching, but I’m pretty sure anything I would write on that topic that would actually be funny or interesting would also get me into trouble.
And, yet, I laughed out loud today reading an old blog post about that one time at the paper when we found a mouse living under my desk. So it’s not exactly that my material used to be so elevated…it’s not that; it’s me.
At any rate, since so many years have passed since anyone read my blog (and they used to), since it’s been so many years since I actually wrote a blog, I was thinking I can just whine here and perhaps, in my whining, find my way back to some better relationship with writing.
ME: Good fucking luck.
ME: Shut up.