Posts Tagged ‘writer’s block’

bad poetry

May 11, 2010

been writing a lot of poetry lately and a lot of it is just plain bad. Not sure why. What I’m writing about is good, but the words I’m using and how I’m using them, well, not so good.

It’s frustrating to have the words come but to have them be all of the wrong words. The wrong form. They may as well not show up at all at that point, just more editing later, but they ring the bell and I open the door and before I know it the damn things are littering the page and I don’t like them hanging around, sitting on my furniture, drinking my beer. It’s mine. I don’t want to share with them. Go. Just go.

On top of that, I haven’t been able to get moving on the novel re-write and the more I work on it the more dissatisfied I am with it anyway. I’m going to want to re-write it a third time.

On the plus side, the landlord finally turned the heat back on as Cleveland has been slammed by another cold snap. So the apartment is comfortable to sit in and not get any work actually accomplished in.

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Not Much of Anything

September 3, 2009

this has just been one of those weeks where I can’t get into much of anything. I’ve tried writing but it’s mostly just staring at the screen with some words trickling out here and there. I’ve tried reading but I can’t find the patience for it.

The problem is I can’t really afford these dry spells but I’m not sure how to work out of it without beginning something new. Though, part of the problem might be that I’m too close to finishing too many things. The one novel really doesn’t have a ton of work to do (though it has enough) and I’ve been closing in on finishing out a couple of notebooks of poetry/prose. Ending things has always been a problem for me. I don’t necessarily like wrapping them up and putting them behind me. Part of it feels good, of course. Something accomplished, etc. But it’s also something I know I can’t have back.

I think another part of it is getting accostumed to g/f’s new school schedule. She started last week and I think the whole thing is just setting in now how she isn’t around and how I need to stop worry about her riding the bus/train at night and having to drive to different schools.

I’ll try again today and maybe I’ll get something written down.

getting the muck out of the gears

July 22, 2009

I think there are few things more difficult than picking up the pen when you’ve been on the sidelines for awhile. Right now my girlfriend is trying to work back into writing fiction and seems to be having a particularly rough time. She got hung up on making a chapbook over the summer, crafting a connected whole of 20-30 pages of poems, and hasn’t been able to get into the fictive swing of things since.

Like any idiot who doesn’t realize he isn’t helping matters I offered to help and tried to throw ideas at her like a dartboard and was confounded when every dart seemed to catch an edge and clatter to the floor.

I think the majority of the difficulty between my attempt at helping and my actually helping is the result of how each of us views writing. She seems to be very much of the vein of “when the muse strikes” and having to know this, that or the other before starting to write.  To me this seems overly particular and romantic.

I view writing as a job. You want to be a writer? well, then start writing. Good or bad, as long as it gets onto the page you can work it around later and should be able to sculpt something pretty solid. The main problem lies in getting the stuff on the page in the first place.

This also helps explain my way of working out of funks or “getting the muck out of the gears.” When talking with her I compared her way of writing to trying to start a car every three months and expecting it to run fine every time. You let anything sit for too long and it tends to get grime and gunk where it shouldn’t have grime and gunk and it generally grinds to a halt.  But if you keep starting the engine up every other day or so, take it for a drive once in awhile, the car will be more likely to have the right parts moving and the right parts staying.

So in writing it’s best to keep the writing going. The more you do it, the cleaner the gears are. but if you do get out of practice or into a funk, the closest thing to an oil change or a radiator flush/fill is to just keep writing and to keep filling the page with the hope that the machine will work itself into running shape again and you can rejoin the writing race.

On the plus side, she finally seemed to have hit on an idea tonight she thinks she can work on. But she doesn’t feel knowledgeable enough to start so she’s doing something that probably comes naturally for most former and current grad students – she started researching. It’s not the first step I’d take, but she seems to be on her way.

And what does all of this mean? I’m not sure but I still think you should write every day if you want to write better tomorrow.

Bending Sinister at 1230am

October 2, 2008

There are nights where I can’t sleep despite how desperately I want to. Everyone probably has these nights. Maybe something happened during the day that has keyed you up to the point where sleep is veritably impossible or maybe there are too many ugly whispers inside your head to shut out and relax.

And then there are nights, like tonight, where you just don’t care to sleep and you find yourself pouring a cup of coffee at thirty after midnight. The caffeine’s not good for you. you’re too old to not be affected by it, it’s not like you’re twenty any more and can shrug the stuff off and collapse into sleep regardless. It’s also not as if you can stay up til four or five, sleep for two hours, and be fine. You won’t be fine at all. you’ll feel like shit. You might even feel physically ill from it.

So why do I do it? Why does the old man not learn? I don’t know. But it was just one of those nights for midnight coffee. It makes me think of the episode of West Wing where they are flying back to Washington at 3 in the morning, having meetings and what not on the plane and someone asks why they couldn’t just go back in the morning. Martin Sheen replies along the line that there’s just something about meeting at 3am that allows you to speak your dreams. Then admits that it’s simply because there isa meeting in the morning that he can’t postpone or something.

While I don’t have a meeting in the morning, maybe tonight is the night to speak dreams.

I hope so. The writing is going slowly. If anyone looks they will see a massive gap between posts here. I sit down and start writing something here or anywhere and it just dies. I have stuff in my head but it just doesn’t want to budge right now, I guess. This isn’t to say that I haven’t pushed a few things across the finish line. A few short stories or prose pieces have gotten done but the larger projects have just gone to pot. I almost feel like putting them aside and working on something else entirely. Nothing like spreading yourself too thin that gives you the illusion of work and progress while actually standing still.

Even with these longer projects I have the ideas in my head, I know what I want to say but I can’t bridge the gap to knowing how to say it. It’s like we’re on opposing sides of a canyon and I keep trying to shout them across but they’re not making it. They just reveberate off the walls of the canyon below, crashing into itself and creating a garbled mess.

Everytime I sit down to work on Green, it feels like a garbled mess. I might be worrying too much about the fact of the history rather than creating a history of facts. It’s largely biographical and I think that’s hanging me up. That and I’m not trusting the narrative that I am establishing. it’s very loose and roaming. It just sort of meanders from connection to connection, time to time. It’s fun in a way but it’s also…odd. It’s almost like walking down a street and every time you bump into someone you follow them for a bit until you bump into someone else. Except after awhile I’ll just be bumping into the same people over and over again and wandering around a clustered group of interrelated stories.

Which could be really cool, if I can get it moving and pull it off. I’ve considered doing an outline. Nothing too exact but just a loose listing of points to hit and places to go. The problem is that every time I have done an outline I haven’t followed it and for a brief moment I end up filled with anxiety over not following it. I feel like I am deviating too much and that I am destined to crash but I always right the ship and keep moving and the worries prove unwarranted.

On a late night side note, I share a birthday not only with Earth Day but with Vladimir Nabokov as well. Go Vladdy Go