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I did not forget. Honest! I've been waiting for the right moment to continue our book talk of Anne Lamott's contemporary classic, Bird by Bird. And wouldn't you know it, Anne comes along with a chapter on writers block? While I don't have an official diagnosis, I suspect I may be experiencing the dreaded WB. This description from Lamott's book comes pretty close to how I've been feeling lately:
A blissfully productive manic stage may come to a screeching halt, and all of a sudden you realize you're Wile E. Coyote and you've run off the cliff and are a second away from having to look down. Or else you haven't been able to write anything at all for a while. The fear that you'll never write again is going to hit you when you feel not only lost and unable to find a few little bread crumbs that would identify the path you were on but also when you're at your lowest ebb of energy and faith.--Lamott
So I read the rest of the chapter, looking for something to transform me back into the roadrunner. Beep! Beep!
Lamott's advice rings true enough: Write one page of ANYTHING per day. Do grocery lists count? Make a commitment to the characters rather than the novel. I like my characters. No problem. And "just take in the buggy pleasures" of everyday life to refill what must be running on empty. Really? How many legs do these bugs have?
Overall, however, I did not feel better or energized after reading this chapter. I. Want. To. Write. So I reached for another book on my shelf, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. This guy takes no prisoners in the battle of Resistence, that inevitable battle when creating art. He's kicked me in the bum before. I think I even wrote about it here.
There's a secret that real writers know that wannabe writers don't, and the secret is this: It's not the writing part that's hard. (Patti here: Well, it's a little hard, wouldn't you say?) What's hard is sitting down to write. (Yes!)--Pressfield
What keeps us from sitting down is Resistance.
Resistance can best be defined by what it keeps us from doing, like starting and finishing anything worthwhile--diets, exercise, and writing among those listed. And Pressfield characterizes Resistance with ominous adjectives: invisible, internal, insidious, implacable, impersonal, and infallible. All true.
If you believe in God (and I do) you must declare Resistance evil, for it prevents us from achieving the life God intended when He endowed each of us with our own unique genius. --Pressfield
This puts writers block in a new light, doesn't it? Evil? A little like burying our Master's talents? Hmm.
I've allowed Resistance to put my latest WIP on hold for a few months. I have my excuses, thank you very much. And it's not like I haven't been bubbling and stewing and mulling, even had a few false starts. But I do find myself wearing that "Writer" tee shirt Katy talked about. Truth is, I've been miserable not writing.
If I'm going to be honest here, time and/or exhaustion isn't my problem. Fear of failure is. Like Lamott, my last manuscript didn't evoke the love of editors or agents or anyone. I don't even think my mother liked it. Pressfield addresses that problem, and I'm going to copy the whole chapter for you. Here goes:
Henry Fonda was still throwing up before each stage performance, even when he was seventy-five. In other words, fear doesn't go away. The warrior and the artist live by the same code of necessity, which dictates that the battle must be fought anew every day. --Pressfield
The battle goes on. Either that fact makes you reach for your sword or sends you to the bomb shelter. I'm off to war!
Whether Lamott's approach or Pressfield's makes more sense to you may be a matter of personality. Know this about me, I cannot wait to mount up and follow the Lord back to earth at the Second Coming. Yep, there's a warrior behind this mild-manner facade. It's time to wake her up. Writing novels is too important. I offer another view of how the world should look. I offer hope! I entertain! I like to think that I add a respite of beauty, too. So do you.
How do you wake up the warrior within? How do you write when everything is saying no? Is Resistance evil or just maddening?