I started this blog on January 1, 2013, as a way to unclog writer’s block, a kind of written Drāno. The description is accurate, given some of what’s been flushed out. To both continue the metaphor and to mix it:
And for the stinky I am yet to write, mea maximum culpa.
The process of written Drāno for writer’s block is oxymoronic: to start writing again by not writing. But it feels true. Hair of the dog. Little black dogs.
All I can do is measure progress by quantity. Three months = thirteen weeks = nineteen posts = a pinch less than one-and-a-half a week. Not the two to three a week I was über-confident would magically flow from my fingertips. And not the zero a week I was terrified I’d choke on.
So … How do I assess my first quarter?
The non-writers I know, which means virtually everyone in my everyday life, are always puzzled when they ask about the blog, and despite my bravado in answering, I’m always uncomfortable. I’m still not quite sure about the whole thing. For now, I’ll try to answer just one of their most frequently asked questions:
I don’t get it. How do you write by not writing?
I am a fiction writer. Even though I paid the bills for twenty-five years writing junk ma—(cough, cough, cough)—I mean direct mail, a business newsletter, educational materials, and assorted work for hire, and even though these have given me a (very) modest full-time living, in some way nonfiction is not “real.” Only fiction is real. Another oxymoron.
This is the part’s that’s hard to explain, one of those situations you try describing and end up trailing off with, “It was sooo much funnier than it sounds. I guess you just had to be there.”
I have sweated over articles like “17 Critical New Changes to the Tax Law Business Owners Can’t Ignore!” But I have never bled over them. I have bled over monsters and angels and bunnies and bears.
Steven King once said that if writers didn’t get paid, there’d be a psychiatric diagnosis for them in the DSM (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders). I knew, perhaps presuming too much, that he meant fiction writers.
There is no paycheck in the blog. No post-to-post topic. No outside-imposed deadline. If I stopped tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect my day job. It wouldn’t affect future work for hire.
At the down-and-dirty level, the blog is simply a way to get into the habit of writing regularly, edging into it backward, totally blind to what’s back there, relying solely on the muscle memory of my hands on the keyboard, my fingers on the pen.
My psych professor once said that a patient enters therapy when the pain of not going finally becomes greater than the pain of going. So the blog is (1) to get me writing regularly, and then (2) to get me writing fiction when the pain of writing nonfiction finally becomes greater than the pain of not writing fiction. (I say this with profound apologies to any “real” nonfiction writer who may read this.)
Is it working? I don’t know. Some days I think I just like to hear myself talk in print, which thwarts the purpose. Other days I get unbelievably angry that I have to waste so much time on these blasted black dogs, time that would be so much better spent writing fiction.
What fiction? And that inner voice, down deep in the pipes where the Drāno hasn’t reached yet, laughs and laughs and laughs.
Is that understandable? Maybe you just had to be there.