Who's your worst enemy?

My agenda today: write a short story, write some flash fiction, and polish the current work-in-progress. I also needed to unpack one more box in the basement, reconcile the last two months’ bank statements, etc. I started with the domestic chores, which may not come as an enormous surprise.

Because of that decision, some of my ambitious writing plans have slipped onto tomorrow’s list. As Fran Lebowitz put it: The act of writing puts you in confrontation with yourself, which is why I think writers assiduously avoid writing.

Of course this type of self-sabotage isn’t unique to writers but I think many of us are masters at it, because of the way writing moves us outside our comfort zones. That can be scary. So we do the things we’re good at and comfortable with.

If we don’t try, we can’t fail.

If we go to a writing group where we are asked to share our work, we simply pass. Maybe we wrote something really good last time and we want to be remembered for that.

Coasting on past victories is stagnation, pure and simple. Playing small like that doesn’t serve the world, to quote Marianne Williamson. I’m too smart to stand in my own way but I do it, all too often. To be a better writer I need to use willpower and discipline to build bridges between my goals and my accomplishments. I have to practice that every day but it can be the hardest thing to do: silence off the external noise and write. Too often I am my own worst enemy.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? When the dull domestic world wants your time and energy, how do you turn off that sense of duty?

Photo from Wikimedia Commons: Arch Enemy’s Angela Gossow 2009 by Roman Hornik

What do you stand for?

The renovations are over. Our home looks better than my most hopeful dream. My desk is planted in front of a bay window where an interesting parade of people passes all day long: monochromatic Goths, purple-haired Emos, aging hippies, teens in retro gear, girls on bikes in long flowing skirts, oldsters on walkers, and many people in various shapes sizes. Sometimes I just sit and stare.

In a true ‘every silver lining has a gray cloud’ way, this happiness comes at a cost: I never want to leave it. Contentment may be hazardous to my creative life. It may isolate me here with these physical comforts.

Einstein said that feeling and longing are the motive forces behind all human endeavours and human creations. That’s mildly comforting because I always long to write a better page, write a more suspenseful story.

Still I have this strong resistance to leaving my cocoon. I want to stay here and revel in the changes that I watched happen, nail by nail, inch by inch, for six months. So maybe I’ll sit down at my desk and open that novel that is slowly taking shape. If I do that, what will I bring to it from my protected shell of modern living?

What is that voice I hear? Could it be Henry David Thoreau whispering across the ether? How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.

It may be time to stand up and go somewhere. To walk on a different beach or take a bus downtown and recharge the creative juices.

Are you feeling dangerously content today? Or are you away from your desk, your laptop, or your notebook, improving your writing in other, less obvious ways?


Photo from Wikimedia Commons: White Rock Lake Dallas Dock Feet by WroteOddly