This is not writing.

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Shit. I really am coming to the realization that I just can’t–or don’t WANT to– write anymore.

But seriously, this is bad. REALLY bad. I mean, writing is my freakin’ job description. I am supposed to write articles, and get them out on time. And for months now, it’s been the hardest thing in the world to do. If I don’t get out of this funk soon, I think I could wind up fired or something. Out of work. And with a brand-new mortgage. Oh, my God. I’m really scared, the more I think about it.

The best way to be a writer, to get out of writer’s block, is to WRITE. That’s what everyone tells you. Just sit down with a blank piece of paper and write whatever pops into your head. Just do it. The act of doing it, even if you are writing nonsense, gets you back into the mindframe you need in order to pull together something that makes sense. FUCK THAT.

I’m using this blog, and my private journal-files, to do this very thing. Right now, even. This writing about not being able to write will hopefully get me going again. It’s worked before. I’ve gotten things done precisely because I blogged. Sometimes I just have to get the bullshit out of my head so I can leave it somewhere and move on to what I need to do.

At the moment, I have an unfinished article to wrap up and damned if I just can’t get my thoughts organized!! I seriously keep reading and re-reading my notes, trying so damn hard to focus and concentrate and, oh, I don’t know…come up with an outline that actually makes fucking sense and won’t result in an article that’s all over the damn place!…and it’s just not coming and I NEED IT TO. I HAVE TO FINISH THIS, NOW. Not tomorrow, not in a couple of hours. NOW.

I’ve never been this off my game in my entire life. I’ve always been writing. It was always easy for me. The easiest A in the world back in school was anything that involved writing. Book reports, essays, stories, articles for the school paper– piece of cake. One time in a music appreciation class, the teacher had us do an exercise where we listened to classical music and then jotted down the images that the music brought to mind. Well, I ran out of paper when we were listening to Rhapsody in Blue. I ended up writing a 10 PAGE story during the duration of that piece. (About a rain storm in a forest, and fairies trying to save a child stuck in the mud, and then the kid goes away and comes back years later to thank them, etc…) Whatever happened to that girl? The one who was scribbling away as the music ended, and half the class was staring at me like “what is she doing?!” I miss that girl so much.

I’ve been getting to this point incrementally for months now, though. Each article takes just a little longer than the last to pull together. LONG gone are the days of writing a full feature article–a relatively clean first draft–in about two hours. I can’t even remember how it felt to be able to do that, these days. It’s so different now, and I don’t know why!!

Did my brain change that much, that I just can’t write anymore? I know people go in and out of different phases of their lives… can that happen with skills and talents, too? Can you do something really well one day and then lose the ability the next? And if so, what does that mean? Where do you go when this happens? How do you pinpoint the next thing you might be able to try and be good at? UGH.

It’s just that I am really beginning to wonder if I am a writer anymore. I think it’s possible that I’m not. Writing has become an absolute chore. Something I dread doing, something I put off until the last possible moment. I’ll do everything else to keep from writing. I like the administrative, daily-grind kind of crap. I’d rather do data entry, something mindless, right now.

Oh, my God. I have never been so terrified about my future as I am right now. I’m serious. If I am not a writer, then what the fuck can I be?!

I just look at my friends who are writers, and I’m so jealous. My friend R can still do it, she can still pound out a handful of articles/stories in a short amount of time, and handle an entire publication by herself. The stupid writer-ex, whose book just got its own entry on Amazon because it comes out next spring, and is most definitely already working hard on his next novel. The guy at work coming up with amazing screenplay ideas and then actually writing them and entering them into competitions.

I’m just a lump of nothing next to them anymore. The only thing I’m debating now is if I should talk to my boss or not about this. I’m pretty sure that doing so would be a monumentally bad idea. I think I would be let go. She doesn’t have time to hear about someone’s stupid writing-career-crisis; she has a magazine to get out every month. I love working here so much, though. I don’t want to leave. And I certainly CAN’T afford to leave or be fired. Not now. No way in hell.

So what do I do? GOD, I wish I knew. Right now, I’m literally shaking with a chill as I realize the depth of the hole I’m staring down into. I’m not being dramatic, or anything. I seriously don’t know what to do.

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9 responses »

  1. Take a deep breath and repeat after me. I am a writer. I am a writer. I AM a writer.

    Being a bit stuck now does mean you are no lobger a writer. It just means you are in a funk and need to get out of it. So let’s review what may be bringing you down: seven months of “will I or won’t I” get a house, all the hoops you had to jump through with loan officers, banks and such, having a huge step in your life completely out of your hands to control, the X resurfacing again after months of non contact and he comes back with bad news, mixed feelings and confusion about S, worry about your job and if you will still have one, Olive getting sick and not working well in your home, the addition of Simon into your life…and there is more but I am going to stop before we get overwhelmed.

    Some of these things are good, some bad but all caused upheaval and emotional response in your life. That is A LOT for one person to handle. You need to realize you have had one hellof a year so far and it is not your fault you are feeling a bit out of sorts lately.

    So how do we fix it. Writing here and in your journals is a great idea. Perhaps write about these experiences in detail, more than you have already and flesh them out on paper to get them out of your head. Sort of like Dumbledore’s Penseive. šŸ™‚

    Also, when you feel like things are too much, go outside, even if only for a moment. Breath deep and get some fresh air. I know it sounds silly but it really does help.

    Try meditation or yoga to help your mind relax. Because with your mind relaxed I am sure the writing will flow naturally.

    And talk to someone, either a counselor or friends. Don’t keep it bottled up. We all need to vent and get things out once in awhile.

    I am sorry if this sounds a little clinical or harsh but I am trying to talk some good sense into myself as well and I need a firm hand. šŸ™‚

  2. You know what? You’re not the same person you used to be. None of us are. We are not the same person we were last month, last year, five years ago, ten years ago… we change as we grow. We can’t help it. Life= grow or die. The only other thing to do is stagnate, and, really, what kind of an option is that?

    Perhaps the source of your current feelings, thoughts and realizations is just another symptom of the “depression” you mentioned in your previous post. Or perhaps you’re being prepared to move in a new direction that you haven’t quite found your feet on the path to, yet.

    I think the whole uncertainty that is your job, of late, is also a factor.
    It never hurts to talk to your boss. Keep the right people informed of how your feeling. Who knows? They may have another direction they’re needing somebody to go in, or may have been contacted by somebody looking for just the right person to fill a certain niche. Or maybe if they knew you were struggling in your current position they could find you something that was a better fit, or offer you some words of encouragement or constructive criticism.

    Lots of people make career changes. I mean, really, who wants to stick with the same thing all the way through life? What kind of life is that?

  3. Also,

    Yeah, there’s that “find something you love to do and then figure out a way to make a living off of it” adage.

    However, I, for one, do not want the things I LOVE/WANT to do to become the things I HAVE to do. I want to pursue my passions IF I want, WHEN I want and BECAUSE I want. I don’t want to start resenting them or for them to seem like a chore.

    Also, I think some of what you’re experiencing is typical “omigodwhatdidIjustdo?!” Buying a house kind of feels like “Crap. Now I’m tied down. I don’t wanna be STUCK HERE!” at first. Rebellion is innate in all of us, and when we’re feeling most pressured that’s when it comes out.

    Besides, maybe your sis and BIL will need a place to rent someday and you’ll be able to rent to them while you go off to pursue whatever, wherever.

  4. First of all: dude, you are SO a writer. Second: I think it’s the stress of this past year making you think you’re not a writer. I know it was a lot easier for me to sit down and just WRITE when I didn’t have so much shit on my mind. I haven’t been able to do that in so long, and I miss it. I’m sure it doesn’t help that you actually have to write for a living.

    Third, I would definitely NOT talk to the boss about feeling like you can’t write. If you feel she’s someone you can talk to, then sure, tell her you’re going through a rough patch right now, but you don’t have to go into details. Maybe there’s a way she could help you shake things up, give you new/more varied things to do at work. (I would say maybe you could find a new position that will allow you to do just that, but I know the job market is shit right now.) And like VP said, it couldn’t hurt to talk to a counselor or someone, even if it’s just to determine if that’s something you need to be doing, or to help you come up with a more concrete plan for the near future.

  5. Hi L, I am a little late to this so the girls touched on what I planned on saying. But I am going to write anyway because I think the more support you have, it will help. (Or so I think- maybe I am wrong)

    I also think talking to a therapist will help you. I know you had been going previously and it seemed to help. When you have gone through as much as you have gone through in a year, you may need to sort things out. Now, I think you have done an amazing job handling a divorce, going on your own, wanting to buy a house, getting a house, not getting a house, getting a house, not getting one again, and so on….. Olive being sick and now leaving and other things as well. Man, I am tired just writing that so I can imagine it being hard for you to process it. So perhaps, going and talking to someone and saying, “UNCLE…. I AM TIRED OF ALL OF THIS!!!”, they can help you sort it out.

    And like the other chica’s said, you are still a writer and a damn good one at that. You know I have always been a fan (But not the creepy Kathy Bates kind… hehe) and would be so sad if you ever gave up writing. I can tell you from experience that when life gets in the way, it is very hard to be artistic because your mind is so wrapped up in BAD STUFF. Some artists thrive on bad, others get blocked from. I am that way and it sounds like you are as well. But please don’t think that you are done with writing; it is who you are and you are really talented.

    Um about the boss thing- I would stick more with talking with him/her about what you can do to spice it up a bit like the other girls said. I know you like where you work but maybe you are ready to move on to something new. Does your job offer tuition reimbursement or workshops/classes? Then maybe you can take a class or two to learn some new stuff. You can always do that on your own but I know times are tough money wise because of the house. And yes, the job market is a nightmare so looking for another job would not be advisable. Take it from someone who is out there in the mess of it. It is the worst thing ever. So yeah, not a good idea.

    Anyway, I hope by now, a few days later you are feeling kinda sorta better. Take care and keep the faith.

  6. Wow…thank you all so much for the encouragement and kind words. It would take way too long to reply to each of you directly here, but I did want to acknowledge that I’m taking your words to heart. I guess, on some level, I know I am still a writer, so it’s nice when you guys encourage me in that way. Thanks. Sometimes I need an outside voice slappin’ me back into reality.

    I do often wish that I could do something altogether different for my paid day job, so that the writing could strictly be for fun again. If I recall, that was my thinking back in college. I wanted to work in radio production, thinking that that way, I would be willing and ready to write when I got home. But life didn’t quite pan out that way. I couldn’t get a decent job in radio when I moved out here. I was trained on analog right when everything was switching over to digital, so despite all that college…I wasn’t actually prepared properly for my chosen career due to poor timing. Soooo… I fell back on my writing skills. It started with the job as a PR coordinator, writing press releases; then I did some freelance; and then, got my first editor job. And that was THAT. Career path set, whether I liked it or not. It came easy, so it was a relatively easy paycheck, and I fell into that trap and before you know it, I never did take college courses to update my training in radio and ended up losing all interest in the field (so doing that NOW doesn’t feel like an option because I don’t want to do it anymore).

    And here I am. With a resume full of writing and editing experience. Not much else. It’s fun to tell people I’m a writer when they ask what I do for a living, but then the explanation part happens if they ask *what* I write, and that’s when I feel a big, soul-sucking pile of MEHHH when I start telling them about it. People’s eyes glaze over. MY eyes glaze over. It’s not exciting, not at all. It’s not creative. It’s not fun. It’s just a job. I wish I could say I write something interesting or completely creative and fiction related. Maybe someday.

    A lot has happened this year, that’s true. But why does that feel like an excuse or like something I am blaming my troubles on? Life’s always going to suck with something. It’s never drama-less. I just think I’ve got problems with my reactions to this stuff. I need to be better at compartmentalizing and getting the shit that I need to do, done. Life doesn’t stop because of stress. People cope with much worse than what I’ve got, every single day. That’s why I think the problem is me. I could be wrong, but…well, that’s just how I feel right now. I expected myself to be more than this. Know what I mean?

    Or maybe I am just babbling too much again and should just think again about what you all said in your comments. Maybe I can convince myself that I’m not failing with this stuff. It would be nice. I’ll try. šŸ™‚

  7. I don’t know if this helps but I can try….. My mom used to say that for a depressed person, I sure was 1) good at hiding it and 2) highly functioning. I think you *may* be like that as well. A divorce and buying a house as a newly single person is a huge change. I could see that taking a toll on one’s sanity, if you will. Throw in the fact that you do have depression and there you go……… you feel like you do. But you STILL get up every morning, take a shower, eat, take care of your dogs, work (although you think it isn’t quality work) and then you go about your day and do what you have to do– that’s pretty dang good! šŸ™‚

    I am not trying to downplay how you feel; I just beat myself up in a similar way so I know what that feels like. You wish you could deal with things better but in reality, you are doing just fine. I don’t think you are using the recent things in your life as an excuse because those things are shaping you for who you are to become. I agree with what Jen said about people changing every day. Maybe you are just overwhelmed at how fast everything is moving?

    Anyway, whatever is wrong, I am glad you are able to talk it over here and get it out. And now, I must go follow my own advice and muster up enough confidence and energy to send MORE resumes out and make phone calls. šŸ˜‰

  8. I am exactly where you are L. I have been doing marketing since graduating college and so for 12 years I have been creative “on-demand”. I am almost incapable of doing anything creative right now though and also fear I could lose my job… and what is the problem you may ask?

    #1I’m depressed
    #2 I’m stressed
    #3 My job doesn’t excite me

    Does any of this sound familiar? I know that when I was looking to move back East, the one thing I knew I didn’t want to do was high tech marketing, because I was sick of convincing people to buy widgets. So, I applied to a bunch of non-profits and got a job at a United Way. Now it turns out the management were a bunch of assholes that were milking the system BUT I met incredible people and found the work to be much more rewarding.. it made the days seem more enjoyable. Now, I’m back in high tech marketing and the dread I feel Sunday nights is ridiculous…. so I feel like we’re in the same boat. And I’m thinking it’s time for a new job, not necessarily a new career.

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