Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dry Spells And The Sorcerer

I have a terrible confession to make: I haven't finished anything in two months. I've written lots of words, but I haven't been enjoying the real, true reason that I write...that is to say: Having Written. "Behold," I like to say, "I wrote that." Nobody wants to know what you're writing. That's the most boring thing you could ever tell anybody. What they want to know is: "Is it done yet?!?" Well, it's not.

Dry Spells
Some finished works are more appreciated than others.
So, I think it's best to call this a "dry spell", because that sounds better than "drought". If the writer is a weather system, there's water out there, but it's just not filling up any particular buckets. Let's try to diagnose, shall we?

Writer's Block
Nope. Do you see all these books I have to write? And that's not even including the short stories that exist in potentia and first paragraphia. No, I currently have more ideas than I can shake a stick at, and they're piling up more and more as I get farther and farther behind. It's very annoying.

Distracted By The Sexy
While this is a fine theory, it seems rude to blame everything on my amazing perfect relationship which is better than yours in every way. Also, sexier. Stop being rude, guys. Even though:
The Sexy

Lack of Sleep
Oh, now I'm just showing off.

Lack of Concentration
There's been a lot of paperwork, uncertainty and background negotiations involved to make my Five Year Plan work, and I've found that it's hard to focus on an invented narrative when I'm trying to make an actual, real-life story come true. But that's not a good enough excuse. I've been busier than this, and still managed to write a whole pile of stories.

Maybe I'm just SCARED
Maybe YOU'RE just scared. Yeah. How's that feel?

Maybe it's because I have a massive headache on a daily basis for no physical reason. Yeah, that might be part of it. I should drink more coffee.

Writing Block
When I sit down to write at my computer, I don't. Or, that is, I don't get to the sit down to write part. I don't think there's a psychology here...I think I'm just unstable. It'll work out before the New Year.

Anyways, I haven't been inactive. I've got a lot of reading done, a lot of reading. That can't hurt. I feel I should read at least ten books for every one I write. It takes about the same amount of time. I've also been keeping up with the short story magazines, and I've got a whole bunch of logistics worked out.

The only solution is to Write More.

I'm going to do the Write1Sub1 weekly thing in 2012, that'll keep me focused. I'll also be writing at least five book projects in 2012, whether I want to or not. Oog.

The Sorcerer
What the hell? (link)
So, let's leave that aside. The solution is easy, it'll just appear one of these days, and there I'll be: back to my prodigious output. I've got a more interesting problem, which is MAGIC. As a writer, I'm a philosopher-magician, but I prefer the term sorcerer because it's more fun to intone, like so:
It is a well-known fact amongst sorcerers that they need some influences, so I've decided to take my writing career to the next level by invoking the names of sorcerer-writers of the PAST AND PRESENT. Also, I added adjectives.
I invoke thee:
Stephen King
accessible, popular
Harlan Ellison
challenging, robust
Anne McCaffrey
great characters, settings
Henceforth consider me those three, combined, for the next generation. Thanks!
Excuse me while I disappear, in cloud of smoke and rustle of cape.
feel free to comment


  1. David, after all this time, how could you reveal anything less than absolute certainty in your strength and guile? That's okay, though: I've been looking for some miserable company, and you're just the sort to share it.

    I'm curious, though: what's actually keeping you from going from singulum paragrafia (I took artistic license on that one) to narrativa accomplativa (also that one)? I think of all sorts of excuse-reasons, and I'm never sure if they're real reasons or just complex poeticization of "ass NOT in chair." But still, it's important to tell ourselves stories about our storytelling, or else we are only automatons serving the dark overlords of our own creativity.

  2. In poetic truth: it's all the OTHER single paragraphs that keep appearing, that keep the first, second, and third single paragraph from completion. This is the literary equivalent of claiming 'being a perfectionist' as a weakness.

    In dismal reality, two reasons: Lack of Focus, brought on by uncertainty & Ass Not In Chair, the all-too-easy ailment. My head may be in the clouds, playing with ideas, but at some point I have to come back to Earth and write them the f*ck down.

  3. I'm not sure this is too much of a problem. I think all writers go through these dry spells, even the most prolific. You should probably read Lawrence Block's TELLING LIES FOR FUN AND PROFIT. Or rather -- you should listen to him read it. At any rate, he has a couple chapters on dry spells and writer's block and creative fatigue that are very interesting. The hardest part of these periods, he says, is accepting them for what they are -- part of the writing process.

    Maybe the best thing to do is call a halt to all effort and just take time off. Set a date when you're going to get back to work, and on that day, sit down and start writing. Start with a page a day for a week. Then two pages a day for a week. And slowly, week by week, build up to where you're comfortable again.

    That's a little trick I learned in Break Writer's Block Now! by Jerry Mundis.

  4. Good call. I read the afterword to "Burglar's Can't Be Choosers" by Lawrence Block, where he relates a similar dry spell that, once embraced, spawned that series.

    I'll be back in action sooner or later, then I'll roll into 2012.


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