Post: Forcing it

22 Apr

One of the hardest things about being a writer is the consistency it demands. In order to write, I find one has to be completely dedicated to the task. There is no nebulous zone- you can’t be partially committed to the idea of writing. Sure, you can keep something incomplete and hope the aesthetic value will carry it as such (it worked ok for post-impressionist sculpture, after all). But for nine at of ten works, its comparable to mixing a cake, baking it for two minutes, pulling it out, and then bringing it to a dinner party and claiming its a complete cake. It’s not. And no amount of fluffy words is going to convince anyone otherwise.

There are just some days where I don’t want to write, and I treat them in the same way as I treat those days which I don’t want to train: I push through, knowing full well that doing so will foster improvement and growth. Usually, I’ll thank myself a few days down the road. That extra practice when it isn’t always wanted is usually crucial to ironing out some issue I’m having.

But there’s a difference between forcing yourself to work and forcing IT. Sounds convoluted, I know (forcing yourself to work vs. forcing writing itself); it’s surely a simple semantics game, right? But the difference in a few letters can amount to a monumental issue. One will lead to prosperous writing, the other to burnout. Which leads to which should be as obvious as a certain former representative’s built-in double entendre.

The other day, I found myself staring at hundreds of writing jobs- trying to find one that won’t demand monumental effort for slave wages- and I found a potential hit. There it was, a couple hundred dollars staring me in the face. Sure, I had to still bid for the gig, but I know it would have most likely landed on my desk. It was a creative writing job, my absolute favorite. It asked for a science fiction tale. One of my favorite genres.

I sat down, looked at my screen, and started to brainstorm. But, I just couldn’t follow through with any of the ideas. I’ve been finishing work for my second novel and, to be honest, the creative juices were dried up. It was a lot of money, but I had to pass it over. I couldn’t bring myself to force out a story that I knew would be beneath what I expected from myself. I’ve done it before. It didn’t work very well.

Years ago, I finished my very first novel. I will not ever, ever, EVER publish it for several reasons. Let’s just say that it was the only book my girlfriend has never finished by choice… In my defense, I was fourteen- and she was very constructive and positive about the story itself; even if it was predictably worded terribly. But, diverting back to the origin of this tangent, I had finished this novel after working on it for months. Immediately afterwards, I thought of another project- a short story. So I thought, “why not?” and I did it. Then an idea for another. Then a poem. Then a prose poem. And then I didn’t write a story of any kind for a year. I just didn’t have it in me.

The brain is like any other part of the body; it has its limits. If I were to go out and run extreme mileage, I would get extreme results. Extremely bad results, but extreme nonetheless. My legs would not look like mahogany godsends- they would look like they belong beneath me in a wheel chair. The body needs breaks. It is these periods of respite which allows the body to recover and create anew. This rebirth leads to growth down the line and is crucial for any endeavor. Especially those of the mind.

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