Monday, September 14, 2009

listen to the cookie

Last week I ran into an acquaintance I hadn't seen for a while, and in the course of conversation he asked me why I wasn't writing anymore.

I thought of all the baggage of the last three years, and I said, "Well, I got divorced, and then I got remarried... and now I'm not angry anymore." And then we both kind of laughed, because although it is funny, it's also peculiarly true.

I had been blaming my lack of writing fire on being busy, but the simple fact of it is, in past years I had refused to take on other jobs, other projects, because they would get in the way of my writing.

I know, too, that if I sit down and concentrate for a couple of days, I can reboot the writing muscle.

But I have no real desire to do so. Partly because the writing never made me as much money as the sewing has. But also because I look at my old stories, and I look at the fiction books I used to enjoy, and I find them cloying. Such melodrama. Such pandering. So formulaic--even well-done books rely on certain assumptions about the way people behave--which are, for the most part, inaccurate, or at least inconsistent.

A fortnight ago I had a real bad week. Everybody on my periphery seemed to be conspiring to piss me off. All of it was petty shit, which in some ways is the most aggravating of all, because there's nothing you can do to fix it, you just have to simmer at the injustice. I spent the whole of Labor Day weekend stewing about it all, and somewhere in the midst of my dark thoughts I got a jolt--clean as a lightning strike and heady as lust--I wanted to write something.

I even had a couple of fresh ideas leap into my mind--that Quinn Taylor thing on the collapsing space station, and a couple of Trace/Fairweather scenes that I've been composting for a while. For the next hour or so I had the fire burning in my brain and heart--the machinery roared to life and began cranking out plots, situations, mood, sensory images--but of course I wasn't in a place where I could do anything about it, and besides I had a whole pile of sewing waiting for me at home.

I have mused over that flash of inspiration for days--that straight-line connection between the need to bash somebody's head in, and the drive to channel that aggression through the keyboard. I'd made jokes about it, the past couple years--about not needing to hide in my fantasies anymore. Apparently it was more true than I knew.

I feel sad about it. I feel as if I've lost something.

I got a fortune cookie last night that said, "Some more art in your life at this time could make you feel better."

I think maybe I should listen to the cookie. But it's hard--when I look ahead at the next three months, I only see the weekends on which I could be sewing for money.


AJ Milne said...

I read a quote somewhere not long back from some writer or other that probably it an essential talent, if one wishes to be a publishing author, that for some reason you never actually get depressed with the inanity of what you've written...

I would probably have to experiment with medications over lengthy periods of time, and probably with the cooperation of an MD who could set the dose right, however, to see if this is indeed correct.

Holly said...

That's probably why writers have a reputation for drinking.