Friday, April 24, 2009

You Might Be a Writer If...

Rousseau cautioned in his writings that the way to true happiness was to walk the middle path, virtu, not too much of one or the other.

I wonder sometimes if his advice was self-directed. I mean, he was a writer and a philosopher, the double whammy. The likelihood of falling down Alice's rabbithole for forever and ever is pretty big. Did he know that? Is that why he tried to warn all future writers? Beware the rabbit hole???? Or was he trying to remind himself?

We writer aren't the best at nirvana-esque living. (If you think I'm exaggerating, see - Edgar Allen Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Stephen King, the list goes on and on and on ). I blame it on the chosen profession, writing.

You might be a writer if...you vacillate wildly between "did I eat today?" to "I'm regrouting the shower for the fifth time."

The writing muse is a jealous lover. When it takes hold, the world falls away and I can't remember if I've done the most basic things, like eat. I have to stop and think. My stomach isn't any help. It sort of falls away too. There's no grumbling. No hunger pains. It's like I become one with the pages I'm working on and existing physically is there only so that my fingers move over the keyboard. Until I practically pass out, that is.

Now the other extreme is when the writing muse won't come out and play. Hugh Grant said in the film "Music and Lyrics": "Inspiration is for amateurs." Yeah, okay maybe, but it's a slow grind between days when it's there and when it's not. (And yes, I am using Hugh Grant logic and Rousseau-an wisdom in the same blog. You never know where enigmatic truths will rear their elusive heads!)

So what is a writer to do? There is that tempting window just to the left of my desk that I have pondered many a time throwing my computer through.

And then there's the kitchen floor that needs regrouting, the flower beds that need weeding, the grass that needs mowing, and the eternal pile of laundry that needs washing. The household chore list is endless. You can tell when the writing "thing" isn't going so well for me because the house really sparkles. Glows even.

And my kids are outside. My mood has a tendency to head south when I'm flummoxed in a piece. Writer mood swings are a whole different "you might be" piece in itself. That and self medication for said mood swings.

But I digress.

Writers swing back and forth passionately between falling down Alice's rabbit hole to not even knowing where the hole's hidden itself. We'd love for the entrance to imagination and storytelling to be open all the time, wide open, flowing with ideas open, but it's a fickle entrance. I've heard supplicating offerings, like chocolate, help. You can use the harder stuff. Hemingway, I think, used Scotch. Whiskey even. It worked for him...until he shot himself. Yeah, like I said, writers don't tend toward the middle path. We try. If only that damned door weren't so obstinate and mesmerizing!

11 comments:

Kim Kasch said...

Oh, it's so true. I try to limit my writing to late at night and early in the morning - otherwise the fam gets annoyed. And an annoyed family is NOT a good thing.

Tabitha said...

Yep, very true. I write while my kids are at school, and if I try to work while they're home, they get in my face. Literally. Needless to say, that doesn't make any of us happy. :)

adrienne said...

I can't stick to a schedule. If I try to force myself to work on something and I'm not into it, the result is not pretty.

Stacy Nyikos said...

Mine don't get fed if I'm working. I keep saying, "Just a minute...just a minute..." Which they retaliate against with loud, scary noises in the kitchen and smoke!

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Great post--I wish I had a little more freedom in my schedule for allow for that elusive inspiration--but I have to catch as catch can for now anyway.

beth said...

SO TRUE.

Last week, I forgot lunch...and supper...

The week before, I scrubbed the floors with a tooth brush!

Keri Mikulski said...

So true!!! Great post. :)

Rebecca Ramsey said...

So, so true.
Sometimes I think the pressure of little time is actually good for me. It forces me to use the time I have. My house is a mess, but the writing gets done.

Sarah Laurence said...

I love the way you drew out the extremes – how true! I often forget to eat lunch when I’m on a roll. My trick is to eat a second breakfast before starting. I don’t usually have sticky writing days, but often the house, kids and life intrude. New spring does make it harder to concentrate. Great post!

Stacy Nyikos said...

Sarah,
When I read "sticky" writing days, for a second I though you meant sticky fingers from a second breakfast on donuts or some sort of comfort food pastry. Clearly, my mind is in the sweets gutter :-)

Bee said...

Enjoyed this piece!

I don't know why, but eating candy (particularly red hots) helps me . . . particularly for academic papers.