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What shall I blog about today?

The obvious choice is the election, until I looked at my calendar and realized I will be blogging about that next Monday.  Then I thought about writing about writing, of course.  But I recently wrote about Preptober and my future poetry path.  So, I figured I could write more specifically about NaNo, but then looked at the calendar again and realized I’m starting my weekly updates on that next Thursday, anyway.

I scrolled Twitter for a while, hoping to find an interesting question or topic.  Unfortunately, today is a PitMad event.  This is a complicated thing to explain but the basis is that you pitch your book via tweet to editors and agents.  So, my feed is clogged up with book ideas…some are great, but there’s not a lot of varying topics.

I could write about my weekend.  On Saturday, I took L fishing, and it was the first time we really hung out one-on-one.  At first, he seemed bored, but once we found some fish hiding under the dock, he got into it.  On the way home I mentioned an action scene in my novel that I am planning, and having some trouble with.  We spent the next hour or so discussing weapons, stealth tactics, armor, etc.  It was good bonding time, and it thrills me whenever the kiddos take an interest in my work.

On Sunday I woke, sick.  Off to the ER.  I don’t remember much…it’s all foggy.  I know that the intake nurse said “Hey, I heard you are an author” and I said “Yes I am!” and then threw up.  I don’t know how she knew that.

Bernie picked me up after a few hours and was told to take me home but then I found out that my people were all at my mom’s house: parents, husband, Kev, Sharon, and L.  So, I demanded she take me there.  She bought me a smoothie from McDonalds that I drank while everyone else ate chili, and then drove me home.  I think I may have dozed off at the table.

Today I feel good.  Healthy and happy and doing fine.  Except for I don’t know what to write about.

They say when you are in such a predicament, that you should write about exactly the dilemma: that you are stuck, or wordless.  This was my attempt to do that.  I don’t know that anything really came of it.  I do know that after today I am booked up on blog topics for the next couple of weeks, so that’s a satisfying feeling.  This?  This is just filler.

And as always, Happy Monday.

The Sleeping Muse

Sometimes, as a writer, you start to think the muse is dead.

At the end of every three months or so, I prep my poetry submissions for the upcoming season.  There is a site called Entropy that publishes a huge list of journals accepting submissions every three months, and I work my way through it with my seasonal submission and hope for the best.  I haven’t encountered any hiccups (this is since starting submissions in 2018.)  Until now, that is.

I won’t call it writer’s block, because I am writing.  I’m pecking out my bi-weekly blog, and the occasional note or dialogue for the novels, both that in editing and that in planning.  But my poetry has been stifled, somehow.  It’s just not flowing.  And this makes me nervous, because poetry is my lifeline to writing on the whole. 

Usually, it happens spontaneously.  Something will happen, or occur to me, and I will have to write it down in a rush, then edit it, then voila!  A poem.  Bam, just like that.  A few a week, usually.  But lately…nothing.

Yesterday, I made myself write one.  It was about the Out of the Darkness Walk that I do every September.  I decided I would write it as a warm-up…give myself a topic (the walk, as yesterday marked one more month until the event,) and sit down at the computer and write something about it.  I surprised myself, in the end.  Which is a good sign.

Any time I surprise myself while writing, it means it’s pretty good.  If I’m reading back what I’ve written and I’ve forgotten I was the author, then it’s really good.  These are the standards by which I judge my work.  It felt like, for some time, this wasn’t happening for me.  Nothing was surprising me.  I feel very hopeless in these moments, as though the muse has left and will never return. 

But then I wrote a little poem, and it’s kind of good.  Then, I wrote another…not as good, but the fire was there.  I wrote a third.  And a fourth…

By the end of the day I had my fall submissions ready to go.  Yesterday morning, I had nothing.  I had the feeling of self-doubt that consumes the writer who doesn’t know what to write about.  I had the voice in my head whispering that it was all crap.  But, last night, I had a full submission packet and several new poems. 

The muse is not dead.  Sleeping, perhaps.  But not dead.

Ode to a Cursor

I sit in front of my computer and stare at the little blinking line where my letters begin and end.  I hate you, I say to it, as it mocks me yet again.  When I’ve stopped typing long enough, it stops blinking, as if to say “I’ll wait…while you get your shit together.”  It taunts me.

There are days when there are no words, and lately this have been most days.  I have been working on editing my chapbook, but really no writing is being accomplished.  I wish that I was the type of person who could write for several hours a day, pounding out thousands of words in a sitting, but that’s not me.  I’m grateful for any progress.  Three pages?  Great.  Three lines?  Equally great, so long as they’re good lines.  Lately, there have been no good lines.  There has been me on a Monday trying to figure out what I want to say that week.  There has been an hour of staring at my poetry document trying to eke some feeling out.  There have been days of thinking about my novel followed by me staring at my old foe, the cursor.  That blinking bastard.

Is this some new form of writer’s block for me, where I can see things in my head but can’t put them on the paper?  What a nightmare scenario that is!  Instead my ideas fester until I convince myself that they are not good enough for paper, and then I move onto the next idea, which often suffers the same fate.  Still, he blinks, waiting as I think about how I just can’t get the words out.

Today is a three lines kind of day.  I don’t have all that much to say.  The boys are here and I would rather be spending time with them than sitting at my computer, staring at the cursor and cursing its existence.  Perhaps that’s where the name comes from.  It’s a curse.

Instead, I will go about the daily business of life.  I will hang with the boys, pick up the house, take a shower, drive my sister to work, check on my mother, call a friend…all those things we do daily because they need to be done or because we want to do them.  Then I will return home later to my computer, turn it on and wait…

…for the damn cursor to start blinking at me again. 

#WritingCommunity

In 2008, I joined Twitter.  I was one of those that came to the party fairly early, signing up when only a handful of friends used it and not really understanding the whole thing at first.  Like Facebook, but short?  Ok, I’m all for the spirit of brevity.  I also was able to do fun things like stalk celebrities and follow the news.  For ten years I had this account, and I kept it fairly small.  Then about two weeks ago, I started reading tweets from the writing community on Twitter, which is huge.  Many people were doing what was called a writer’s lift, and those participating seemed to be plugged into this community that I had been watching for a little bit.  I decided to give it a try, and within a week and a half I more than doubled my following.  Mission accomplished!  Wait…

With this came two dudes.  One was nice enough, though he lives across the world and we probably have nothing in common.  He was respectful enough when I told him I was married.  The other, not so much.  He begged me to meet him, promising that he could make all my dreams come true and insisting that he could make me happier than Mark does.  Sir, you don’t know me.  Even if I was single, a handful of tweets cannot possibly tell you who I am as a person.  And if I say I’m happy in my relationship, that should be the cue to step back and away.  Twitter is not a dating service.  You will not find your true love here.

The weirdo is nothing, however, compared to the enormous self-doubt.  I am now followed by published authors, which in theory should be a boost to my self-esteem but in actuality is sort of crippling.  I see these people write 1000s of words a day and talk about their agents and editing and how they’ve completed another novel and I want to throw up.  I look at my novel, which is pitiful in word count and will likely end up either being YA or a novella, and I feel sick to my stomach.  I thought that connecting with other writers would boost me, but I’m finding it makes me self-conscious instead.

When I finish something, I’m positive about it.  I’ve written stories and poems that have been published, and I have always been proud of my finished projects.  It’s the stuff I’m working on that gives me nightmares.  A novel that I am stuck on, trying to write about bargaining as a stage of grief.  It teases me, saying “Hey look!  Look how much you wrote, and look how far you have to go!  YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO GET THERE.”  I might get there, of course, but at the moment I am stuck.  A poetry chapbook, which needs a handful more poems and then will be completed.  That’s probably the easier of the two projects at the moment, but it feels insurmountable at times because I don’t have those few poems yet, and I don’t know when they will come to me.  I never know when it’s going to come to me, and that is what makes this calling so difficult.

I write in my blog every Monday, even if I don’t have much to write about.  It’s the one scheduled thing that I have, and I try to keep up with it as best as I can.  I love the feeling of my fingers flying over the keyboard, trying to keep up with my racing mind.  I wish I could feel this way all the time, just sitting at my desk and pecking out words and stories and tales of my life.  Alas, I suffer from terrible bouts of writer’s block and self-doubt, the latter being my own personal Achilles’.  I don’t doubt much, but I doubt my works in progress until they are complete.  I doubt people want to read my work until I have proof, like publication.  I assume it’s all garbage, no matter how many times I am told otherwise.

So, on one hand, I am glad that I’m getting so many new followers from the writing community, as it kind of gives me inspiration.  If they can do it, you can do it!  But on the other hand, can I?  Or is that just something I tell myself so I don’t completely lose my mind?

K is here, so I’m going to go do the mom thing for a while.  Hopefully later today I can sit down and get some work done, but truthfully, I’m not feeling it today.  I don’t know if it’s my own self-sabotage or writer’s block or just that the sun is out but I’m not inclined to spend the day at my desk, even though I crave that feeling of productivity.  Some days though, it doesn’t come.  And that’s alright.  I’ll just wait until inspiration strikes, then ride that mofo like the last train out of town.

When all of your ideas are terrible…

…you start searching online for topics and suggestions for lifestyle blogs.  After a few sites I decided that was silly.  I’m not going to share my favorite recipes.  I’m not going to do a post about the brands I love the most.  I have had trouble finding a reason to blog lately, which led me on this quest to begin with, but these are not topics that interest me.  No, I do not have any travel tips for you (except maybe bring sunblock.)

I will not share with you my morning or evening routine.  Why would you care? I’m not going to do a listicle of my top ten favorite movies because again, why would you care?  I mean, I’m open to discussions but a whole blog about such things seems unnecessary.

One topic was “What inspires you?”  If I had any idea what inspired me we wouldn’t be sitting here right now, would we?  I would be off doing that and getting inspired and writing something worthwhile instead of using a search engine to find a topic.  I have no idea where my ideas come from, they just come.  And sometimes they run and hide, like today.

One suggestion was to write about a family gathering.  Yesterday was our family reunion, but I was honestly feeling out of sorts and don’t have much to say about it, other than the food was good and the kiddos had fun.  Another just said “blog about humanity.”  I’m sorry, but isn’t that kind of a broad subject?  One could argue we are always blogging about humanity.

In closing I have nothing new and original to say, except that my poem came out in the August issue of Ghost City Press Review, so you should pop over and check it out if you’re so inclined.  Other than that, I promise I will try harder next week.  Or I really will tell you the three secrets to glowing skin.  Who knows?