Yesterday and today was the Pre-Institute for the Boise State Writing Project, and I’m really excited. My bibliomania is really flaring up at all of the great reading we’re going to be doing this summer. We’ll be reading Opening Minds: Using Language to Change Minds, Get it Done!: Writing Informational Text to Make Things Happen, and a “writer on writing” book. The latter is particularly exciting to me. I kind of want to read them all. I’ve read a few of the books on that list already, but it’s been a while. Yeah, this is an exciting post. Uhm… yeah. Okay, so I think I’m going to go take a bath or something. And read.
You need to get grounded. You’re a flag half-strung in a gale, and you keep flapping so hard in all the wrong directions while your better half fights to hang on long enough to fasten that second clip on. You are wasting yourself, burning yourself out on trivialities and distractions, burying yourself in a soft, suffocating sea of fiction and ill-advised naps., You have things to CREATE and you are not getting any younger. Pull it together! Turn off the screens and turn on the part of you that once made you happy. Remember to breathe. And remember not to do all of your living at school. It is good to love your work, but you also need to love your life. Be strong.
What is significant? Are these past few years significant in the greater scheme of things? Is who I’ve become, who I am now? Or is this a temporary thing, a transitory state? Am I a stronger teacher because I’m a weaker human being?
The loudest noise in my head right now, as I heard into the Boise State Writing Project, is this sense of creative constipation I’ve been battling for several months. Will BSWP be an exercise in frustration as I try and fail to resuscitate my writing voice? Or will it turn out to be a sort of psychological laxative? I so badly need to get back in touch with that vital part of myself…I can do this, but there is so much in the way!
Sometimes, stress is like blowing up a balloon. If you don’t put enough air pressure behind it, enough stress, no good comes of that little sack of rubber. A correct, “healthy” amount of stress creates a beautiful bouyant globe. But too much stress, and the balloon overinflates and explodes.
Other times, stress is like playing a reed instrument, like a saxophone or bassoon. The correct amount of stress makes music. But if you blow too hard, the reed can clamp down against the mouthpiece and you’ll get no sound at all.
Inadvertently, the point I seem to have made is that stress blows.
The point I was trying to make is, my current stress is like an overblown reed. There is so much pressure mounted behind me that I can’t do anything…
The funny thing is, before I wrote the previous paragraph, I felt justified in my stressed-outedness. And the moment I wrote it, a voice inside my head scoffed at me and demanded to know why, exactly, I was so pressured. What is wrong with me that my inner self can’t take a little pity on me?
I had been thinking something along the lines of this post for a couple of days, but (appropriately enough) couldn’t get it done, and then Neil Gaiman helped out by posting this a few minutes ago.
Sometimes [writing]’s like driving through fog. You can’t really see where you’re going. You have just enough of the road in front of you to know that you’re probably still on the road, and if you drive slowly and keep your headlamps lowered you’ll still get where you were going.
I envy Mr. G. his foggy drive right now. I really want to be writing. I have this mental itch that really wants to be scratched. I’ve got this idea that if I could just write some things, I might be able to get some things published. Little things – I’m actually fantasizing about science fiction short stories right this minute. Not worrying about novels or anything right now. I’m actually being a realist for once, and realists know that you break into genre writing – at least, sci fi and fantasy writing, which seems to be my fiction niche – a little nibble at a time.
Unfortunately, I am – as I said – being a realist for once. And the realist realizes that I have absodamnlutely nothing to write. (That was a tmesis, by the way. I’m a big fan of tmesis.)
I kind of want to write YA fiction. But I’m not sure I remember what it was like to be a YA. I’m not sure I could write with that voice – I’ve tried, and it feels forced. I’m not sure I was ever a YA reader, you know? I was reading adult lit when I was in grade school.
I feel like you ought to write things from a place of personal experience. But what do I have to share? The only thing that consumes my life and all my mental energy is teaching. And what’s there to say? Who wants to read about being a teacher? And where would I find the energy to sift through my job to create fiction?
So maybe I should write nonfiction. But again… I am just not feeling it.
So I am in this whiny, obnoxious place where I simultaneously want to write and won’t write. Ha ha! Joke is on me!
I can’t help but think that if I could go on a writer’s retreat of my own (I’m envisioning a tiny cabin, somewhere wooded but not too secluded) that I just might be able to wade through the fog and write something. And hey, if that involved tea with Neil Gaiman and Stephen King, that’d be okay with me.