Commentary and Philosophy Non-Fiction posted April 12, 2015


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Writer's Funk

by Spiritual Echo

Writing Contest Winner 
It’s not writer’s block.  As a matter of fact, at least in my life, there’s no such thing.  I can write about anything, any time any place.  It’s not even valid to blame it on a lack of inspiration. I’ve got a dozen stories that play hopscotch in my head at any given time.  It’s writer’s funk—plain and simple.
 
It started with a thread, a lingering thought that continues to weave in and out of my mind. ‘What do you want to accomplish?’
 
I spend an obscene amount of time writing.  The characters I create become alter personalities, make believe companions and accomplices in avoiding reality.  While past due taxes scream for attention, and laundry is reaching record heights, I write.
 
I tripped over my funk when I realized I was using writing as an excuse.  Living alone, I have no responsibilities, except to myself.  Lately, at the end of each day, I have nothing to show for my waking hours except a few thousand words.  But there was no purpose to the writing, no blueprint that would eventually produce something of substance—wasted words.
 
I’ve written three novels, one published and two sitting in draft form in my portfolio.  Writing a book at least has substance and there is a measure of satisfaction to completing the last chapter.  But essentially, I am a short story writer and essayist.  According to the site, in 2014 I posted 151 stories.  Some of these went on to be published elsewhere, and I even got paid for some, but the sheer volume might indicate the need for an intervention.
 
‘What do you want to accomplish?’
 
I realize there are writers who want to slap me right through the screen, envious of the time I can invest in writing.  For them, time is precious and they struggle to carve out a few hours to devote to their craft.  Conversely, I’m a little jealous of their lives, where people and activities can consume days and weeks.  I was once that person, but now I feel that perhaps the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.
 
There’s a difference between pride and ego.  I’m very proud of my accomplishments in all areas of life, but particularly in the improvement in the quality of my writing.  It’s said, practice makes perfect, but while I claim no perfection, I can certainly feel smug about the exercise. From other writers, I have received invaluable tutoring that has served me well in allowing me to puff out my chest.
 
What I don’t seem to possess in any measurable amount, is writer’s ego.  A little might help.  I do remember seeing my name in print the first time outside of FanStory, and snatching as many of the newspapers as I could carry.  It was a glorious feeling, but alas, though the same newspaper regularly prints my stories, I’m not even aware when I’m published.  I don’t check, and since it’s a small town newspaper, they neither pay nor notify me they are running my submitted work.  At best, I can identify this lethargy as been there, done that.
 
I like contests.  No, let me revise that statement.  I like winning contests.  It satisfies my competitive streak.  Most of the time, note the qualifier, I am not a sore loser.  When I lose to poorly written work, it gives me indigestion and tends to evoke my baser vocabulary.  Losing to a respected writer is not only humbling, it is a tutorial on what to do right--part of the learning curve.
 
Contests aside, what else am I getting out of this massive output? I feel that this funk has somehow evolved into a question about life’s purpose.  Most people look forward to retirement as having the time to do the things they love, needing to defer some dreams, but that time has come for me and I have eaten all the inventory in the candy store.
 
I think the funk began slowly, crept up on me while I was merrily gaining unnoticed weight while lounging in sweat pants in front of the computer with a bag of chips by my feet.  It began when I noticed my disgust at some of the crap I was writing.  That I wrote it exceptionally well was not the point; it was a cop-out.  I found myself pandering to audience taste; limiting short stories to ‘prescribed’ FanStory subject matter and attention spans.  In itself, this was not a sin, but rather good marketing, a reasonable plan in any business, and if I was being paid--totally logical.  If I would not submit erotica to a Christian publication, then why wouldn’t I skew my stories to audience taste?
 
 This question was pie-in-my-face easy to deal with. Stop doing it.  And so I began to write longer stories, and I didn’t worry about reader drop-off.  I even allowed myself to chuckle a few times when it was noted the story was a long read.  ‘Was it worth it?’ I responded.  If the answer was yes, I consoled myself that I was on the right track.  The epiphany that struck me like a thunder bolt was accepting the site was a writing gym, a place to work out my personal writing goals and issues, not the be all and end all.  I was paying for membership, not being legitimately published. 
 
It was easy to avoid the big question of what I wanted to accomplish during a bitter and long winter.  In fact, my obsessive writing may have saved my sanity during countless snowstorms that turned me into a hermit.  But it is spring now, and the weather report has promised the warmest day this year.  I’m watching the thermometer climb (God, computers can do almost anything—including monitor outside temperature) as I’m typing this essay and realize I need to define, discipline and detach myself from this artificial world that has become my reality.
 
Perhaps the key word in my question, ‘what do you want to accomplish?’ is not ‘what’, but rather the word ‘accomplish’.  For at least today, I must accomplish something else, not better necessarily, but something else besides sitting in a room alone staring at a computer screen.
 
Maybe if I actually get off my duff and do something, this funk will burn off in the spring sunlight.

 
 







 

Writing Prompt
Write a story or essay with the topic of "writing". Can be instructional or a character in the story can be a writer. Creative approaches welcomed.

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