Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fricassee

I read every single comment that you leave on my Friday Fricassees and other not-a-contest posts, and often your words pierce or encourage or warm or tickle me, and I wish I could keep up with responses, but it's not something I've created dedicated time for.

So today I've just got to pull out some of the comments from last week's Friday Fricassee.  Because some of you have wonderful things to say, and I want to say something back.

(Last week's Friday Fricassee talked about my feeling BLANK.  You can READ IT HERE.)

Nikki Trionfo said:

This is exactly how I feel. Although, I define the emptiness a bit differently. It's not that I haven't "accomplished" anything. It's that I haven't escaped. Apparently I need a daily escape, which is strange because I live a full life like that one you seem to, with kids, a hubby, a house, soccer practices, church responsibilities, etc. I notice that I'm unmotivated to do chores like the dishes when there's no reward in sight, other than clean dishes. Before, there was open time if I did my chores efficiently. Time I used to escape.

Nikki, you have a point.  There is something about the writing that affords a departure from "real life", whatever that may look like for each person.  Instinctively, I know that--after all, that's why it's so amazing to choose a specific play list for writing each novel.  The music zaps you into your world with the first note!  It's like having alternate realities/universes at our fingertips.  And when we lose our traveling privileges, it feels awfully flat to be stuck in the real world.

krystal jane said:

I really don't know who I am without my writing. But I am taking tonight off because I'm stressing myself out about it. It's a promise I made to myself. When I start getting crazy and thinking I have to write everyday or I won't sleep right, I force myself to take the day off so I can recoup. Remind myself that writing is not air. I don't have to do it everyday.

And that, right there, is wisdom!  The ability to take our own "writing pulse" and then to act accordingly is a necessary step in maintaining sanity.  Seriously.  Taking a day off--or a week or a month off--isn't "quitting".  We really do need to fight to maintain our autonomy apart from our writing!

Emma said:

Of course not producing anything (or, not letting your dreams out) will cause the world to be bleaker. The world IS bleak without daydreams.

And as for the corporate 80/hr/week drone - let's not judge them either. Most of them are in professions where that kind of output is required, and they have, as you say, kids and family that depend on them.

In the end, what's the difference between spending ten hours/day on a novel and ignoring your kids vs. ten hours/day in a cubicle and ignoring your kids, as far as the kids are concerned? I know, off topic. But when you say with such determination that writing is your profession (as you've said in other posts), you do forget that it's much, much, much more than that.

You ARE a creative person. You DO need the output.

I relate. I have the exact same reaction whenever I decide to stop writing because of discouragement. But then I realize that this is me. Without creative output I'm just whatever other people need me for - I am a wife/mother/daughter/consultant. Those things are not me. They are what I do. Writing (and other creative output) is, on the other hand, what I am.

Just the fact that this is your reaction to not writing means that you ARE a writer. I realize this is going against what you are saying in your post, but if you were not a writer, the lack of output would not bother you. The world would not feel so empty. You'd be fine.

Emma, you've said so much that is good here.  That the world is bleak without daydreams, I concur.  Not just daydreams, but hopes, desires, dreams, visions, faith.  And the act of writing encapsulates any or all of these.

About the writing being much, much more than my profession?  Yes, indeed.  To call it my profession is to validate place it where it belongs so that I can go about the business of writing without giving myself a nervous breakdown or entangling my heart in the process to such an extent that I will never be able to approach the business end of things with any semblance of sense or maturity.  But to neglect to honor my true self--the fact that I AM A WRITER--is to do myself a disservice.  You're right.  I'm a creative person.  I DO need the output.

Which is why I'm so thankful I can sit down at my piano any time I choose.  Or delve joyfully into my next ballet class.  My spirit shrivels when I'm not doing something artistic.  I acknowledge that.

I cannot say, though, as you have said, that "Writing (and other creative output) is...what I am."  I draw the line at defining myself by what I do, regardless of my level of passion or proficiency.  I AM a storyteller.  I AM a musician.  I AM a dancer (well, sort of).  But I am NOT the writing.  I am NOT the music.  I am NOT the dance.

Splitting hairs, perhaps, but for me, it keeps my identity solid.  Though I get what you're saying--really, I do.  And I love the passion of your creativity (it is oozing through your words!).

This is kind of an I-am-woman-hear-me-roar moment, but I don't think I'll go there.   :)

And, finally, I especially love that you said this:  "...if you were not a writer, the lack of output would not bother you. The world would not feel so empty. You'd be fine."  Yes!  That's a wonderful reminder, and so affirming.  Of course I'm a writer!  Of course that's why the blankness bothers me!  It feels wrong because it is wrong--for me.  A necessary time of rest, yes, but not right for me because of who and what I am.

Thank you for that beautiful reminder.

MaggieMay said:

Go dabble in watercolor, dance your heart out, cry in the rain. When you have something to say, you'll write again.

Well, yes.  That's exactly it.  Exactly.

JEN Garrett said:

God is the most creative being and we are His, so we must be creative, too. Whether it's in the form of writing, art, computer programs, social events, inventions, culinary dishes, or gardens - we all have that need to make something out of nothing. And it's different for each of us.

No, writing doesn't define who I am any more than this beautiful earth defines God. But I for one, am glad He knew what He was doing when He made it.

When I find myself in the bleak writer's doldrums, I give myself a pity party then seek to appreciate the creative genius in others. The farther from my own creative streak the better. Invariably, a well-cooked steak or amazing landscape will ignite that passion in me to create something new.

Thank you.  Yes.  I believe this, too.  And I love the concept of appreciating the creative genius in others.  Of course there are so many different manifestations of creativity!  How right you are.  And yes, I am known to stop and appreciate the presentation of the sushi on my plate, or the gorgeous way a woman twists scarves around her head, or a breathtaking display of flowers in a public garden.  I'm thinking that, without my even knowing it, each of these moments is doing its part to ignite my creative passion.

I so appreciate your words of wisdom, Jen.

Sarah Maury Swan said:

Perhaps your mind is just sorting out the details and getting your character into your psyche before you write. That's what happens with me. You haven't really lost the urge, it's just mulling things over. It'll come back. It always does for me.

Well, yes!  I tend to forget that there's a whole lot of non-writing brain stuff that goes on before a single word appears on the page.  Thank you for the reminder!

And on that note--I'm a bit giddy to announce that I am officially working on my next project.  No beat sheet yet.  No word count.  But all sorts of worldbuilding and character developing and and and and THINKING going on here.

I can't deny it anymore.  I think...I think...

I think I'm writing a new story.

Mind you, I'm keeping this as "child's play" as I can.  Dare I admit that I'm starting to have fun?


Baby steps, baby steps.  I'm still not considering myself back at it full time; I'm not going to push myself.  But, man, does this feel good.



  1. That's the thing about a blank slate. It begs to be writ upon.

  2. Congratulations on starting a new story (or sort-of starting, if that sounds less intimidating.) I love that feeling.

  3. Good for you! That's wonderful news. I think my muse is on vacation. The urge to write is there, definitely, but the story isn't... yet. The other day I was trying to relax and this image kept pestering. An image that I believe is the hook for my next book. But that's all I've got. I think with patience it will come. It always does. Still, I had to get the hook on the page. Who knows, maybe it's the beginning of my best book yet and that's why it's starting slow. Hmm... I haven't thought about that until right now. Could my muse be coming home?

  4. Other people's creative genius is hugely inspiring for me. Even when I'm in what I call "crunch time" with a story, I still take time to appreciate the arts. It just does something really nice for my brain. :)

    Hooray for baby stepping towards a new story!! Brainstorming is essential to the process. I love brainstorming new ideas and getting to know new characters. Sometimes I do it too much. Lol!

  5. Dear Authoress, I'm glad I could cheer you on. I've been cheered on a time or two myself. And you do excellent work with your site.

  6. What fun to hear that you are working on your next project!