After a bad writing day.
So last week I wrote that I was having a Bad. Writing. Day. The gist was, we all have them, you just gotta keep coming back for more. So I did, and the very next day all of these things happened:
1) My neighbor brought me a fresh strawberry pie. No, this has nothing to do with writing, but it was a nice reminder that people are good, life is good, and at the end of even the worst of days … there is often strawberry pie waiting.
2) She brought a magnolia bloom, just cuz. Is there anything more beautiful than the scent of magnolias? I placed it by my computer, with all my notes and cards — the chaos of my mind laid out before me — and it scented the air as I tried to make sense of it all. Pretty, huh:
3) My friend, Dan–whom Daniel Hawthorne is named after in SWERVE–texted me to commiserate. Sure, it ended with:
Now let me go back to that crap-filled, crap-frosted piece of moldering crap waiting for me in MS word…”
But at least I knew I wasn’t alone.
4) My friend, Sara, emailed:
Those bad writing days? They’re just part of the creation process. Those days happen when the inner critic has risen up and come to light so much that the writer’s instinct has retreated to the inner-most cave. Those days of zero words and shiny floors force us to realize we’ve let go of the instinct and send us into the cave to find it. But to get into the cave we have to fight the doubt trolls and ask the right questions: What do I need to write next? Where did I lose my way? Which of my cards did I play from my hand too soon? Do I know my characters well enough? What part of the story am I missing? You’ll have to figure out your questions, but you’ll know it when you ask the right one. The cave will open. The instinct will be released, reunited once more with yourself. Words will flow until you hit this dark part of the cycle again. I think these dark days should count as good writing days, though, because the work has moved into the sub-conscious. You are a writer, a good writer, a real writer. You are more than just word count. (Easier said than done when staring down a deadline, I know.) Until you unlock that cave, eat, drink, be merry, exercise, clean as much as you want. It’s all part of putting your sub-conscious to work via physical activity. Take a bath, swim in the ocean. Do the things you feel you need to do, because once that cave opens, you will be flooded with words and there won’t be time to clean the floor.
I have the *best* friends.
(Aside: Why can’t we be that nice to ourselves?)
5) Talk about burying the lede, but it was the end of the day when I finally received THIS:
“Swerve is a rolling nightmare that speeds you down bloody highways and dizzying switchbacks. A road story as dangerous as a knife hidden in your boot.”
—Richard Kadrey, New York Times bestselling author of the Sandman Slim novels
One upon a time, Richard and I shared an editor, so I’ve been reading his work since the beginning of Sandman Slim, I’ve recommended it to my readers often, therefore this was very much a dream come true.
And how could I remain in a funk after all of the above? Impossible. So–the sun will come out tomorrow … and all that–and the next day I was back at this:
Sorry it’s blurry–it was a quick snap to text to my husband to show him that I was back in the saddle. His reply? “Aw, cute! You’re doing arts-and-crafts!”
No, baby. That’s my brain spread out all over the kitchen counter. It may not look like much now, but if I just keep hitting it day after day–and with a little help from my friends * –it’ll take shape soon.
* Cyndi and Dan and Sara and Richard and all my Facebook friends who offered up words of encouragement–thank you, thank you, thank you.