Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting Out The Traffic Jam

I am what you might call in-between writing projects at the moment. I am currently working up to marketing my BWCA book to publishers. The book is "done" although, like any work, I think it could probably be better if I spent a couple more years on it. (That is a joke, but not too far from the truth. Ask any writer.)

At the same time, I am working piecemeal on my second book, an as-yet untitled work about the house I grew up in in Minnesota. Initially the stories came fast and furious, as I recounted the best ones first. I think of this as a sort of creative vomit, for lack of a better description. The stories flow readily because they have been recounted several times at family gatherings, and if not recounted, replayed in my head. Getting them down is relatively simple. Getting them cleaned up is a bit harder.

In addition to those two projects, I am coming off a handful of fictional short stories that I wrote to stretch myself. I think it's important to push the boundaries of your comfort to make you a better, more versatile writer. It's the reason I reached out into trying my hand at poetry a few years ago, and I thought it would be good to try it at fiction as well. I've discovered that it is a nice diversion from the mind-work of memoir, (remembering dates, places, events, and people) but it is still not easy.

With those short stories done, and my bigger projects hanging, the past couple of weeks I've been in a writing funk. I'd dabble here and there, but nothing was coming easy. It is then when I begin to question my own credibility.

Am I totally out of material already?
Why cant I think of anything to write?
I call myself a writer? Ha!

It's that old demon called "the critic within" that rears his head every time something doesn't go my way. I've been pretty good about squashing his voice over the past couple of years, but sometimes it's too loud.

As I'm sitting with my laptop last night, kind of dreading the block within, I started a story about the Greek Church that we lived near. It was a "place of passage" for my brothers and I as kids in the 70's. The story started out with a description of the church and the grounds. Before I knew it, the story had taken a left turn and the next thing I knew I was writing about a friend I had grown up with and the story was no longer about the church, except as a secondary character. I talked about his habits, our growing friendship and eventual falling away. The whole time I'm wondering, where is this coming from?

That is the fascinating thing about writing to me. I never know where it's going to take me. I start down a road and end up driving off a cliff or rolling over in a ditch. Sometimes I even crash into a brick wall. It is a cool ride, but there are lots of instances where I'm driving blindfolded, or steering with my feet.

All I have to remember is to keep getting in the driver's seat. The road will always be waiting.

Blogging off...

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