I like to think we all strive to be better. I do. But there are days, weeks and even months where I’m stuck in a rut. Everyone gets stuck — if you say you don’t, go do 90 minutes of hot yoga. Your perseverance will be questioned in that class, and if you get through it, even with breaks and a lie-down or two, you have persevered.
Writing a novel is a mind game for me, a hot yoga class of creativity and work. Negativity flutters around the room like little winged demons as I begin to write. Inspiration is the trickster, the coyote tempting me toward the dark path of YouTube videos, Facebook memes and true crime stories. The real work is in front of me, words waiting to be written, to come from my mind to the page. I sit and I begin — it’s that simple. I turn on music, sometimes, and zero in on the partially written scene that was left for me the day before. When I begin, the demons’ screams fade, the coyote runs away, and if all goes well the muse arrives. I have persevered.
I had another story rejected recently. It stings, but I don’t let it sting for long. It becomes a scar, another slice from a sword in a battle that I fight every day. Some battles I win and some I lose, but my focus, my through-line is the big picture — The Novel. I will persevere.
This post is for a story I wrote called, Big Fish. You can read it here or just click on the picture below.It’s a peek into the world of two contract killers who decide to use an unconventional method for the disposal of a body — a big body.
I hope you enjoy the read. If you do, please like, comment and share. It helps tremendously. If you don’t like it, do the same thing!
You know who I’m talking about. There is one in everybody’s life. For the most part, these people were bullied as kids. They are angry, sad people. So, in part I feel bad for them — but that’s as far as it goes. I waste no calories with concern for their wellbeing.
Hating this person, attacking this person or trying to help this person is more than a waste of time, it will hurt you, take time from your precious day. This person is an emotional vampire who wants nothing more than to rule the roost. They make everyone who they interact with miserable and afraid.
They abuse authority, contribute nothing of importance to society and create struggle for everyone else. Life is already full of struggle, so the adult bully can go extinct for all I care. Which I think can happen. With the access to information we have now, I think that people will evolve out of being like this. Regardless, these are fools we must suffer sometimes. It’s an unfortunate fact of life. There are just awful people in the world. Maybe they just need a hug — I probably won’t be the one to give it to them.
One must fail to succeed. I’ve been told this ad nauseum. It keeps me from quitting, because success hasn’t happened yet. I wouldn’t say I’ve failed necessarily, but the climb can be excruciating. I can’t help but to us the Mt. Everest or K2 metaphor, both difficult, if not seemingly impossible, mountains to climb where death is a real possibility. Clearly, death isn’t possible while sitting at a desk and making shit up, but the death of my soul when I get rejected or find a massive hole in my plot is real, and it hurts. What I’ve come to realize is that my ego is getting pummeled.
Ego is the sense of self, self-importance, personal identity. Well, mine is wrapped up in writing and succeeding at doing so. I’m 44. I have kids. They ask when I’m going to be done with my book. “About three more years or so,” I say. My ego cringes. They look at me like I’m nuts and my daughter says, “I’ll be thirteen?” I die a little inside and say, “Yep. That sounds about right.” She makes a sound of exasperation and gets on with her day while I try not to reel on the fact that when this book is finally done it will have taken me eight years — I don’t try to explain that I have finished the book twice but the rewrites are where the real magic happens. I didn’t start this endeavor with any notion that it would be easy, I started because on my death bed I didn’t want to regret not doing it; so, it’s a long game, a slow burn and hopefully people will like the what I write.
Okay. What If I finish this thing and its wildly successful? Hell if I know, but I’ve been told it’s a one-in-a-million chance and it’s no good for the ego because I’ll always be chasing the dragon of success. I wonder if maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, but in my heart of hearts I know it would most likely not be a good thing — at least that’s what I tell myself.
It’s helpful, wild and wonderful when the sparks of inspiration fly. Creativity and motivation move through you with elegant perfection. The feeling can be transcendent. Lean back, absorb the endorphin rush and hopefully be inspired again.
What about after the dust settles and the haze of inspiration is gone? The work still needs to happen. Whether it’s a creative endeavor, exercise or a work project, if you don’t do the work the inspiration that got you there means nothing. Inspiration comes when it comes. You can’t depend on it.
I used to depend on it, until I got serious. I’d like to say I can push through the tough times without wishing for inspiration, but I’m not there yet. I missed a blog post last week, I didn’t work on my novel and no short stories were submitted. Life got complicated and I let it get in the way of what I love to do. What happened my mind and my spirit was interesting, maybe even inspirational. I got depressed. Not severely, but life had no vigor, greens were less green and reds were less red. If I’m sticking with the color metaphor, I was blue.
Creativity needs inspiration, but can’t live on such a fleeting concept. Work is the purveyor, and part of what work means is getting through the many uninspired moments. It’s bleak, I know, but it’s reality. I try to recognize inspiration and ration it, use small amounts until it wears off. For example, after a writer’s retreat or conference, I used to come home and blast off with wild abandon; but the rush of being inspired wore off quick. Now, I try to recognize the inspiration and use the tools I have acquired to control the drip. I know it’s nuts, but that’s how I view it.
Blind faith in my creative process gets me through the rough patches. Sometimes my fingers feel like anvils, and each attempt at a keystroke is mentally excruciating. I look at the words on the page, my characters, the story, and I hate it. A not so quiet voice in my head tells me its crap, it’ll take too long, I won’t succeed, blah, blah. It’s noise — a construction zone of chaos in my dome, looking for excuses to stop working, get angry and quit.
I’m too persistent. I don’t know how to quit. If this were easy I wouldn’t be doing it, so I relax, step back and see the big picture.
To say a novel is difficult to write is silly because, to me, it’s seemingly impossible. If the novel were a mountain and the process were the climb, then I’ve been climbing for years without seeing the top. I just have to believe the top is there. It’s that simple and that difficult. I might be nuts, yeah, I know. But, so what. We are all nuts in some way. If you think you aren’t nuts then you are probably crazier than most, and that’s okay too.
In times like this, I tell myself to settle down, take a step back and appreciate other things. Family, the sun, the ocean. Awareness of the simple things helps me reset. I like to look at life in the present and let the good soak in, but it ain’t easy.