Wednesday, April 28, 2010

On Paralysis

At one point early in my marriage I had the opportunity to work part time. I worked three days a week and had Tuesdays and Thursdays off. The first couple of weeks, I accomplished absolutely nothing at home during my days off. I wandered around the house thinking of all the things I could be doing with those marvelous hours that had opened up in my life. I was so overwhelmed by the choices that had open to me that I did absolutely nothing but contemplate my options.

I often have the same experience in superstores. There are so many things to choose from it is not uncommon for me to become overwhelmed and to leave the store without buying anything.

Between the time I originally drafted my last post a couple of weeks ago and now, I have written not one word of fiction. I haven't drafted any blog posts, and I have given only the most cursory attention to reading the online blogs and zines I ordinarily visit religiously. It is a somewhat twisted aspect of my character that now that I have the time to write for hours every day, I can't make myself do it.

On the one hand, I am trying to be kind to myself and to allow myself to heal before making too many new plans or increasing my internal pressure to write or undertake any kind of emotionally difficult work. Emotionally I'm doing well, I think, but I still feel occasionally disoriented, bruised and tissue paper fragile. I am trying to move forward slowly.

Part of my paralysis about writing new material came from realizing how many completed manuscripts I have in my writing folder. Some are ready for querying. Some are ready to be kicked to the curb, but I want to visit them once more before I let them go. I had set a goal of writing pitches and queries for several of them by the end of March. I sent out two queries, and didn't write any new ones. I don't want to write pitches and queries. I want to write fiction. I know that makes me sound like a petulant amateur. I suppose that's what I am right now.

I think that all the stories I've written up to now -- as much as I love them -- were practice. I tried various genres and subjects as a learning process. I don't want to be a romance writer, so I'm not going to query those two romance novels at all. I think Merlin's Daughters contains some of my best writing, but I don't want to be a fantasy writer, so I'm not querying it. I'm considering simply giving away all my stories on Smashwords and moving on. I'm putting them out there in the hope that someone may enjoy them. To date nearly 2000 copies of my stories have been downloaded. I hope some of the people who downloaded them read them. I hope a few of those people enjoyed the story.

I don't really expect to make any money off of my writing. I would like to, but I'd like to win the Lotto, too, and I don't expect that either.

I have two novels in progress. One is ready for the final couple of chapters, which is something I like to do over a long weekend when I can spend hours and hours of concentrated time, maintaining the flow and the tension. I'm not sure I'm up for that kind of emotional thrill ride right now, so I've been avoiding it.

The other story is on the brink of turning into something that scares me a little lot. I've been avoiding it for several months. It's waiting for me. I find myself sifting through ideas for it as I'm exercising or doing housework. The story's working on me. I'm not ready to write it down yet, but it's percolating.

If my inner slacker didn't already have enough reasons to avoid writing, the last couple of weeks the weather has been what people move to Florida for: warm-but-not-hot temperatures (after a long, cold winter), crystal skies, light winds and an ocean to walk beside. When the sun is out, I can't make myself sit in my house and write. My body and my soul crave fresh air and sunshine. Walking on the beach -- often alternately smiling at the beauty and feeling grateful for the opportunity to be here or crying out my misery (sometimes during the same walk) -- has been the most effective medicine for all the things that ail me.

And so I will try to be patient and humor myself for a while. But, if I don't get back in the saddle soon, my Muse could become annoyed. And I know from experience that is never any fun.


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