This is not so much a writing wonk. It’s definitely not a process wonk. It’s a writer feeling good piece.
Since leaving standup, my output didn’t pick up much. I expected it would, but frankly, I got sick of hitting walls with long work and trying to come up with short stories.
Part of the problem came from spreading myself too thin. I’m new to this family thing, and we had a bit of residential whiplash after getting married last year. I was doing standup, which requires writing muscles I never really developed. And somewhere in there is my day job.
Eventually, I said, “Enough!” and dove back into writing. I had to remind myself I’m not just doing it for me; I’m doing it for this new family I have.
Then I went back to school (because I’m also doing that for the family.) With one class last term, things didn’t really pick up. With three classes this term…
Wow. Ever hear that old saying that busy people get more done? At least I’m not spreading myself as thin these days. If anything, having a history class requiring five essays and two term papers has made me be more creative. And writing has become what it once was in the old days before I had any pretense of doing this “for real”: a way to blow off steam.
Now I can sit here and make all the excuses: Divorce made me depressed (It did); I needed to focus on putting a life together with Nita (who insisted I put my office in the basement when we moved to Chateau Nita, so that excuse is lame); standup (kinda).
In reality, I got the blahs. I think the blahs had been building for a long, long time, back to about 2006 when I had no clue what I wanted to do next.
The blahs are inevitable. Stephen King has had them. Philip Roth has had them. Pretty much every writer I know has, at some point or another, wanted to simply format their hard drive and wipe it all out. They may hit people in different degrees, from “Ah, screw it. I’m taking the day off” to Billy Crystals infamous struggle to get past “The night was humid…” in Throw Mama from the Train.
Even when things picked up again, I was struggling to get books read by deadlines so I could, yanno, get paid? But then I sat down and forced myself to write a short story about a character from Road Rules. (No, you haven’t read him yet.) Then I sent out a rather sick story about a serial killer who thinks he’s a vampire meeting a woman obsessed with vampires. And then I wrote one about California. And another about a landlord. And I started reading sci-fi mags because I’m sick of explaining to people from high school why I don’t write science fiction.
Um… Let me just say thank you to James Patrick Kelly. I’m reading his latest novelette in Asimov’s, and yes, I’d like to be James Patrick Kelly when I grow up, all while being Lee Child and Laura Lippman. And maybe John Scalzi as soon as we get a cat. And some bacon. (I am a truly schizophrenic individual.)
Tonight, I sat down and worked on the notes for a story about a show very much like Cheaters, only sleazier. I think my wife wanted me to shut up when I kept going on about it.
The fact is writing’s become fun again. I don’t care about awards or writers organizations or (Don’t tell my agent) making money. That said, I am chasing those paying gigs.
I just want to have fun doing it.