Friday, April 24, 2009

Scaring the Muse

Recently I’ve been doing some serious soul-searching. Several things in both my writing and my personal life happened almost simultaneously, and I just wasn’t able to deal with all of it. There was nothing really big, mind you, just a bunch of stuff that built on each other rather like tiny bits of dust and lint clinging together to create the mother of all dust bunnies. And then I found out something very interesting: dust bunnies scare my muse.

Suddenly, in the midst of my private crisis, I lost the desire to write. As it stands right now, I’m contemplating where to go from here. I seriously doubt that my love for writing is gone forever. Writing is a part of me. I’ve never been able to go very long without writing. Deep down, I’m sure I’ll get back to pounding on the keyboard eventually, but right now I have to deal with my reluctant muse.

Yes, I know, I wrote this blog entry. Yes, that is writing, but I struggled with this entry. A lot. Unusual for me. I may not know what to write about, or exactly what to say, but figuring it out is usually a challenge, a challenge that I have almost always met with joy and anticipation. Today, on the other hand, it’s all about passing on what I’ve learned from this painful episode.

I believe a large part of what’s wrong with me is burn out. I love writing, especially fiction, but I’ve been writing for a long time. Over the last few years, since I decided to get serious and make fiction a career, I’ve focused so hard on writing that there was little else in my life. Yeah, I spent time with my family, but usually when there was a problem somebody needed help with, or if I was exhausted and had no choice but to take a break. It was very, very rare that I did something just because I wanted to — and when I did I tended to feel guilty. I felt I should be doing something else, something more productive. I’m disabled, so I didn’t even have a day job to focus on. It was all writing, all the time. I didn’t fill the proverbial well. I didn’t appease my muse. So she hid in a corner and isn’t speaking to me.

Right now, I’m trying to make a decision about where to go with my writing. It’s a complex issue, due to my disability. And a writer’s anxiety and confusion is worse than dust bunnies when it comes to scaring muses.

I have to make some hard decisions. Writing for fun, career, submitting or not, how to shape my career should I decide a writing career is what I want. I have to consider things like how much can I physically do every day, every week. Will getting a big (and big is a relative term) advance lose me my social security (otherwise known as food and a roof over my head), or could a big sale possibly be the beginning of something wonderful.

I never though I’d live to see the new millennium, and I never thought I’d have these sorts of issues to deal with. I’m on unexplored territory right now. And I have a feeling I’m going to find out some interesting things about myself. But whatever happens, I don’t ever want to become so overwhelmed by writing that I forget to take time for fun, for me. And my advice to all you writers out there: fill that well. It isn’t just a catch phrase, it’s essential to a writer’s well being.

1 comment:

  1. My heart goes out to you because while certainly not being in the exact same situation as you (and I'm not in danger of losing the roof over my head if I become a successful and published author), I do know what it's like to have your muse go walkabout on you.

    Emotional pressure and stress have a sneaky way of eroding desire and creativity. It can be very insiduous and before you know it, BAM you can't think of a single word that you would care to jot down, let alone sentences and passages.

    Someone gave me some really good advice which was to let it go for a little while and then come back to it slowly. The awesome writer Terry Pratchett talks about a time when he set a goal of 400 words a day for himself. Four hundred words isn't a lot--maybe a few paragraphs, but many days of that quantity will help you to feel productive and then creativity returns when it has a feel good companion.

    Your post was so touching and I could relate, so I wanted to let you know that you aren't alone. If you need to go radio silent on your blog for a while, then do. We'll be here waiting to hear your thoughts whenever you care to share them.

    *Big hug and blessings sent your way*