A couple of months ago, I mentioned that my muse seemed to have gone dark. I was hoping by this month’s blog post I’d have a happy “I’m writing so fast my fingers are cramping” post to write. Alas, I haven’t written a single word.
I know a lot of people don’t believe in writer’s block. They think it’s an excuse lazy people make for not being willing to put “butt in chair” and just do the work. I suspect those same people tell their depressed friends that if they just went outside and got some exercise and counted their blessings every day, they’d feel better.
I don’t know if this is writer’s block. I just know that I want to be writing, I have time to write, and I am not writing. I see other writers on Twitter talking about drowning in plot bunnies, telling their new characters clamoring for a story to get in line. And there’s nothing in my head.
Well, not entirely nothing. There are two characters who keep dancing at the edges of my dreams, but they refuse to come out into the light and play. I named them the other day—Armand and William—in hopes of coaxing them out of hiding, but to no avail. I know the skeleton of their story (it’s based on a popular fairy tale), and I have vague images of a fog-shrouded setting of stone statuary and an empty, cobwebbed manor estate, but Armand and William remain stubbornly silent.
I think part of my problem is that the panic of a deadline isn’t looming over me, and I’ve gotten used to panic-writing. Another part is my aging cat, who howls bloody murder if I do anything but sit on the bed and let him have my lap. Not to mention the existential angst of living in 2018. But if I had a real story brewing, those things wouldn’t matter (or at least they would be mere details, obstacles, incidental).
In the meantime, I’m anxious and worried about everything. Which is something I’ve always lived with, but not writing definitely exacerbates it. It’s like a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I’m going to get in trouble, I’ve done something wrong, or some karmic fate is going to catch up to me, some disaster I cannot escape.
Spinning other people’s fates has always had a remarkably calming effect on that background noise. I often wonder if other writers use their writing this way, consciously or otherwise. Giving their characters problems and flaws that they can eventually triumph over. Writing worlds that they, the author, can control when everything in the real, mundane world is so often out of our control. Writing as therapy. Maybe that’s something I can do. Maybe.
Maybe I’m doing it right now.
Maybe Armand and William need a therapist.