Saturday, November 22, 2014

Just the right word

This is it.  My chance to make this the shortest writing slump I've ever experienced.  I feel like I haven't posted here in three years, but I see it was just mid-August.  That was only three months ago.
I am never sure what to call it, this dark feeling that entering my writing room is akin to fraternizing with the enemy.  I feel I have never experienced 'writer's block' and thus can not sympathize or understand it.  But today I clicked on a Writer Unboxed article about writing 'slumps' and I felt that spark of recognition.  A slump.  I get into these low valleys and it feels like my writing self is up at least at the camp halfway up the hill and I have no desire to do anything except stay down here. Immobile.  Where no harm can come to my writing ego.  Anonymous and happily so. It is safe in the valley of the writing slump.

But safe isn't forward movement. Safe is useful when needed.  But it isn't living really.  Living does mean taking chances.  And pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.

For me, writing means believing in myself and when my writing gets criticized I simply stop believing in myself.  I tell myself I'm just a reader and to stop pretending otherwise. It happens every time.  And before you start lecturing me I already know.  Any artistic endeavor requires a thick skin. It requires being able to learn from criticism and improve your craft.  I have been reading that mantra since I cracked open my first 'How to Write a Novel'.  But it isn't in me.  It isn't.  And during these slumps I start judging myself, because these same 47 books I've read say a real writer can't NOT write.  And I can.  I can not write.  For months and sometimes years at a time.

But when I start getting the urge to leave the valley, I see that I have been writing.  I've been creative.  I've been posting.  I've been letter-writing.  I've been researching and learning. Words are still an important part of my daily existence and the more of them I consume, the better my day has gone.

And the word 'slump' did it for me today.  I like having a label for it.  I like knowing the task ahead, to get out of this slump.  And my first urge to blog in three months comes with that recognition.  Recognition that even though I'm currently 51 and awfully old to be a beginning writer, I am going to have more of these slumps.  I just am.  And if I'm ever going to get a book finished, I'm going to have to be patient.  Now next Saturday I might write that I never expect to allow myself back down there again, but as of 11/22/14 I recognize this is a part of me that I need to accept.  And if I am feeling like I might be coming out of the slump, I probably am.  And so I need to reinstate my writing discipline and get back to work.

My goal this week will be to find the word for when you have just stepped above the cusp of the slump and have tentative aspirations again.  I love finding just the right word.