Thursday, December 10, 2009

When the Process Doesn't Process

It's all fun and games -- until it isn't.

When I'm in the thick of things with writing - when I first discovered I could work on multiple short stories, moving from one to the other, picking up where I left off, going to the next when one stalled, and that they got finished and were good stories (at least I think so) - or when I first started working in the library south of town because Rick was off work and I do not have the discipline to write fiction when he's home - when I'm writing, writing, writing, I can't imagine it being otherwise. Of course every day I'll put words on paper (or pixels on a screen, or whatever it is). Of course some days will be more productive or more creative or just more fun than others. Of course I'll do it anyway, even when it's not as much fun.

And I really believe this at the time. Because I am gullible and can lie to myself. Or because when it's like that it's too wonderful to believe it will go away. Or because I got there by dragging myself to the writing until it became that much fun and I think I can do it again, conveniently forgetting the part I'm about to repeat - the not fun, drag-yourself-to-the-writing part.

Then there are times like I went through recently - no short story sparks or gets off the floor (the one on the space station I particularly loathe.) I can work on the novel, as long as I convince myself to, and when I reread it in six months I (probably) won't remember that I was having a bad day. The voice will sound the same. The plot points will track. Or I will have rewritten it so they do, probably not realizing it was because I wrote that section on a "Come on, you have time, so write" day.

And then there are times like these. Depression running very high. Panic close behind. No, that's not right, panic is leading. Rick is working nights, with a very long commute that takes about 105 minutes. There's nowhere for him to stay up there in Nowhere Very Much, California. Some of these nights -- which last a good 15 hours, from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 or later a.m. (math not being my best subject, I think that's actually 14 hours) -- some of these nights I write. Not enthralled. Not in the zone. But I write.

Some nights? I vacuum the entire house and make stock out of the leftover turkey carcass and very old celery and the last of the farmer's market onions and potatoes.

When I would rather vacuum than write, things are not good in the Jennifer writing world or in Jennifer's head.

What causes your process to break down? And what do you do to beat it?

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