Sunday, November 19, 2017

Demons Abound

 Every writer has their imps, demons, and vexing monsters.

Many are the little ear imps that whisper discouragement whenever you begin to write.  They cajole and criticize every sentence written, they distain every word selected and scoff at attempts to  replace it with a more precise one. They pester you with niggling thoughts of other ways you could have chosen to twist the plot.  All of these ever-present voices are irritating in the same way as mosquito bites; ever present and absolutely impossible to ignore, although not enough to interrupt your creative flow.

The demons speak of somewhat larger irritants; concerns about where your recently submitted  piece sits in the editor's queue, if you are going to make a (usually self-imposed) deadline, and how you are going to extricate the protagonist from this or that dilemma.  Other concerns are that you've just sent off a piece that could have used a bit more polish, or that your most recent attempt did not measure up to your earlier works. Being lost in the mail used to be a concern, but now that only applies to missing royalty checks.

The hulking monsters that straddle you and dig their spurs into your psyche are evil beings who create daily nightmares with their black thoughts. The greatest of these is Self-Doubt which seizes on every disappointment, every failed attempt to think of the proper word, every mistake in the drafts as clear evidence that you are a fraud, a failure, and one who only accidentally acquired what little name recognition  you may imagine you have.  Its companion,  Jealousy is the most insidious monster and as capable of crippling your art as the others; everyone you read writes better than the drivel you produce - they are more articulate, their plots more realistic, and backgrounds are more vivid than any you could write.  Then there is the deadly Procrastination that always tugs on the reins of desire, and prevents you from progressing.  This monster is ever offering more pleasant alternatives to sitting at the writing anvil: reading, having lunch with friends, taking a drink of two, just putting things aside, sleeping, or writing meaningless blog posts.



Monday, November 6, 2017

Writing Time

Back when I was grinding hours away on corporate and client matters I always put aside time to write, that is after dinner, walking the dogs, attending to family matters, etc, which usually left damn few hours. When I retired from being paid for my time I volunteered to become the financial guy at SFWA, little knowing that it would last for almost ten years and consume almost as many hours as a regular job.  Needless to say, my writing suffered, going from grinding out two novellas and some shorts a year to only writing short stories and pieces of novels. The aperiodic nature of accounting and dealing with associates who have day jobs across the time zones and companies that demanded more time than I could afford left me almost too exhausted to write very much.

But  think other factors have contributed to slowing my writing production, including that dark shadow that life casts upon anyone approaching the average mortality age for male citizens of the USA. At eighty, I no longer have the energy that once infused me despite a rigorous program to keep the joints lubricated and range of motion exercised.  Suddenly every cough, every bodily pain foretells the time when it changes from being nothing much to becoming the sound of dark shadow's footsteps.

Reading the obituaries of younger people makes me wonder daily when my heart attack will hit, when a stroke will occur, or when some disability will a strike. Every morning I idly wonder, when I try to move my aching bones and stiff muscles, that maybe not getting up would be a better choice.

Then there's the gradual clouding of my writer's mind, the flood of ideas has become a trickle, my draft plots becoming Gordian knots of confusion, and I find the proper words no longer become easily accessible.  During my dismal periods*  I wonder if my loss of interest in overcoming a problem might be a forewarning of  dementia or worse.  Worst of all, from my perspective is how it is becoming all too easy to just put things aside for later; a later that never seems to come.

And the clock ticks away the remaining time I struggle to finish writing those novels, finish drafting the short stories I've started, start a new story, or attack that stack of books and  magazines I never seem to have time to read.  It's a bitch, this growing older.

But that doesn't stop me from writing.

*When I should be writing comedy.