Writer’s Drought

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I think that I have experienced periods of inspirational drought. I used to beat myself up about these “dry spells” I mean if I wanted to me a writer I had to write yes? Yesterday, I had one of those spells, but instead of banging my head against the designated spot on my mental wall I thought a moment. Perhaps t these times of writing are part of the process of writing?  I wrote a lot before this frustrating empty time, so perhaps what I really needed to do was replenish the well of creativity I draw on.  I admit I had been so busy a frustrated with work I hadn’t read very much. Reading other’s works often inspires ideas for me.

If you have nothing filling you have nothing to give. All creative work is an echo of the nature and work of the divine creator. As a writer you are not God you cannot create things ex nihilo (out of nothing) but you must draw on another source of inspiration. Simply put you cannot give what you don’t have. Many authors (including me) have made the mistake of trying to draw from an empty well. There is nothing there.

The flow has  many names, “the muse,” “inspiration” “the Aha moment” “the zone” you get the picture. Your source of inspiration can come from any of those echoes in your life that flow through you and come pouring forth on a page.

Writers block happens whenever there is a drought (as in my case) or a blockage to that flow. Blockage is what most “writers block self-help” books are about. That’s where you are told to play all sorts of mind games with yourself to unblock the flow of ideas. Or some take the psychological approach and have you do deep soul-searching to discover the inner problem keeping you from your writing.

An example from my writing was perfectionism. I felt that nothing I wrote could ever be “good enough” and it kept me from writing a single word down. What helped me is that I decided that everything I write is a learning process. Even if I write absolute junk it was worth it because I learned what absolute junk looks like. If I make a mistake (and this has helped me lots with my social life) I tell myself, “put it in the learning bank and collect interest on it later.” Mistakes are investments in the learning process. There is a personal cost to make them, but eventually you will see returns.

If your case is not “blockage” writers block, but “writer’s drought” no amount of coaxing will help you. You will be stymied by every approach and waste your money on many useless “how-to” writing books. Not all are useless, but if you are just buying those instead of actually writing you’ll never get anywhere. Trust me I’ve done it. You will need to just do one simple thing: STOP TRYING TO WRITE! Put down your pen now! Close your laptop! You can’t write in a drought, you can’t give out of poverty.

Have you stopped trying to write? Good.

Now what? Well that’s up to you. Think back to what has inspired you before. Was it music? Do you need a good night’s sleep? How about picking up your favorite book? Have you forgotten to eat today? How about calling a friend? Hanging out with friends? Hang out alone? (Maybe you’ve had too much activity)  What works for you? A movie or video game might help some, but for me those activities are a bit counterproductive because they don’t require active thinking on my part. Even sleeping has more active thinking than most movies. A psychological thriller or a puzzle game might help. Do whatever you need to fill your tank of inspiration so you can write again.

If it is successful you will be inspired again.  The urge to write will come and ideas come, and sometimes when you least expect them. For me it was to step back and analyze this period of writing that I had experienced so many times. Remember; give yourself a break you can’t give what you don’t have. You need to fill yourself with inspiration so that it can flow through you in your own unique voice that echoes of the majestic divine.

I am Myself

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I was standing in a large room in a crowd of people. Do not ask me how I got there only accept that I was there and this is what I saw. We were all standing on a large surface. When I looked to my right, the crowd went on as far as I could see. When I looked to my left it was the same and behind me also stretched beyond my line of vision.

In front of everyone was a panel of shadowy figures. These were our judges.   We all watched in silence waiting for the shadows to speak. I sensed that the lives and destinies of everyone in the room relied on what they ruled. I began to tremble as I waited for the verdict that would be ruled by them.

A large voice (yes large was the only way to describe it) called out from the judges, “Every A-type go to the right and every B-type go to the left.” The crowd began to comply with the ruling from the judges moving to the assigned spaces. I felt relieved. It was only to categorize us. Of course this would be simple. I jogged over with my fellow As happy to belong  as we took our places to the right of the Bs.

Once the shift of the crowd was over the large voice (it was truly an immense sound) called out again, “All those who are right-brained come forward, and all those who are left form groups behind them.” Again we complied, this was really easy. People began to talk on the way to their groupings and I found several people whose company I liked. I noticed others becoming more friendly with each other. After all we reasoned we have a few things in common.

The categorizing went on to divide male and female, young and old, differing backgrounds, and future plans. As the groups became smaller my so did my confidence. One thing that troubled me is that I had to say goodbye to several people I had gotten to know because they were not in my assigned “category.” The judges seemed particularly picky about “associating outside the sections.”

The room had another trick which I’m not quite sure how it worked. You would imagine that the room having no more, or less space then at first would be full of little groups of people. Yet what I saw was as each section  got smaller, the farther away from everyone else they seemed.

This had a curious effect on all of us in the bigger groups. We found ourselves pulling away from the smaller groups. We at once realized that to be in a small group was a very bad thing to the judges. This became evident when the first person came to stand alone. He was so far away we could barely hear the conversation he had with the judges.

“You,”  the voice (if it is possible it sounded larger than it did in the beginning) said, “where is your section?”

He looked terrified and began to run towards the crowd to his right.

“No,” they commanded, and he stopped, “You are not an A type. Where is your section?”

He looked near to tears and said in a shaking voice, “I don’t have one.”

“Then you are no one,” the voice said with the power of finality. The power of a judge, “You are alone.”

“I am alone,” he said then dropped to the floor in despair. I couldn’t tell at the distance I was but he appeared to be shaking.

At that point I quickly counted the people in my section and to my relief there were fifty. It wasn’t the biggest section, but fifty must be alright. The dividing of the judges started again. More people stood by themselves and always the verdict was the same, “You are no one . You are alone.” Everyone repeated their verdict as it fell upon them.  Some people wailed in grief as they heard the verdict, others silently took their isolation in despair. I must confess I did not pay so much attention to these people, because my attention was directed to the shrinking size of my section.

Fifty had become thirty-five and then ten. I began to reason with myself that it was alright ten was enough not to be alone. Then ten became five, and then two. I looked to the girl who stayed with me. We were the most important person to the world to each other. I saw the fear in her face and I knew it reflected the expression I wore. I grabbed her hand, “Don’t worry as long as we don’t separate we won’t be alone.” She returned my sentiments. We did not let go of each other’s hand. I felt better, but the judges were not finished.

In the next section what I had dreaded had happened. The section would be dividing me from the other individual who held the key to my identity and hers. In vain we though we could defy the judges, we wouldn’t let go of each other’s hands, but a force that I can explain propelled us apart and I couldn’t see her anymore.

I began to feel my breath leave me as I realized the fate that I had dreaded has come upon me. The room changed and I was standing right before the judges. The voice (which at this point was large and heavy) said, “Where is your section?”

I felt myself say, “I don’t know.” My voice felt like it came from far away.

“Then you are no one,” came the expected verdict.

I trembled and felt the room spin. My mind raced a million thoughts and my breath came in short gasps. I couldn’t speak. “I-I…” I stammered.

“You are no one,” the voice commanded.

Time seemed to pause. The voice repeated itself? Why did it not finish the verdict and be done with me? I stood there confused. This had never happened. I looked up at the judges.

“You are NO ONE!” The voice was impatient.

The truth finally dawned on me. The the only power they had over me was what I admitted out loud. They could not condemn me if I did not accept their verdict. Everyone before me had taken what they said. In fact even the people in groups had consented with their feet. I do not where it came from but at that point I decided, I had enough.

“No,” I shouted back at the judges. My voice which had been small sounded louder, “I am myself!”

“You are alone,” came the voice.

My heart sank. My defiance had no effect on the judges, but I said again for what it was worth, “I am myself!”

“You are alone,” returned the judges, this time their voice sounded like a challenge. I grabbed the thread of hope presented to me and said louder, “I am myself!”

There was silence. The judges seemed to be unable to answer. So I said again, “I am myself!” I felt desperation in my voice, but I would not submit to the verdict and surrender this power I had found. I began to yell, “I am myself,” stamping my foot with each declaration. Then I paused and there was another sound that broke the silence. It was a very small voice, I looked and saw the girl whose hand I had desperately held before.  She too was standing alone facing the judges. She looked over to me briefly and smiled. I wasn’t alone.

She spoke again, “I am myself!”

We alternatively faced the judges and said, “I am myself!” They continued to make no response. Then I heard other voices from the loners began to take up the chant. With each phrase more voices were added. Some people broke from sections shouting, “I am myself!”

They joined us as our chorus grew louder and stronger with each phrase.  We didn’t know why we shouted. We didn’t know how this happened. We only knew that we must shout for the judges to hear.

The chorus of people reached a crescendo. I couldn’t hear my voice in the din of the crowd. Somehow our voices melded to one, and a great number of people began shouting, “I am myself!  I am myself! I am myself!” I thought my eardrums would burst, but I knew my heart would as I felt it pound against my chest.

Then everything  went silent and black.

I woke in a green field beside a lake. Do not ask me how I got there only accept that I was there and this is what I saw. A blue sky was overhead, and I could hear birds singing. A breeze danced across my face and I breathed deep the scent of flowers. I looked to my right and saw the girl who had stood up with me to the judges. We waited awhile not sure how to take the sudden change.  

Finally I said, “You are yourself.”

She smiled and said, “You are yourself.”

“We are ourselves,” we said together and then laughed. It was a laugh of joy and not of humor. We laughed long and hard rejoicing in the freedom from the judges.Tears rolled down our faces as the laughter became louder and freer  We rolled around the grass holding our sides because we could not contain our mirth. When we finally  came to I noticed that everyone else who had stood with us were there.

I looked with joy at those who had come with us. People were laughing and dancing. Some were weeping tears of joy. Other embraced each other. All was light and beauty. We had escaped the darkroom of the judges. “I am myself,’ I thought, “and I am free.”

I am not alone.

Speaking in Heart

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I need a thesaurus for feelings

One that will give me the words

For sad too simple one syllable

And happy so broad absurd

Grief can be agony or numbness

Depression anger turned in

Joy can bring tears over flowing

The complexity that comes from within

Laughter can be bitter

Sorrow can be sweet

With all these contradictions

How do words and feelings meet?

Feelings need their own language

Their own verbs and noun

The words spoken by spirit

Where only Divine works abound

the Thing within

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To find the Thing within

Does not sparkle in the sunlight

Nor dance in the breeze

To find the Thing within

Does not hold to high standard

Nor does good with ease

To hide the Thing within

Does not cease to make its presence known

Nor bring about its ending

To hide the Thing within

Does not end its haunting life outside

Nor bring hurts to mending

To ignore the Thing within

Does not let its voice keep silent

Nor bore it till it dies

To ignore the Thing within

Does not vanish all signs of its presence

Nor end the life of lies

To end the Thing within

Does take an outer courage

 Faith beyond the sky

To end the Thing within

A simple execution

Crucify

Everyone

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In the twenty-second century everyone had a face2face account. Everyone called it 2face. Everyone knew that 2face had just reached over two billion users on its network. Everyone had a connection to 2face by a special implant in the brain giving everyone instant thought access to everything about everyone.

Everyone knew Sam Harding. Everyone knew he was 6’ 1” inches tall and weighed 165 pounds. Everyone knew that he liked old novels and his favorite book was, “The Man who was Thursday.” Everyone knew he enjoyed soft rock music and wore blue socks. Everyone knew that Sam liked to read books made of paper instead of the 2face reading network. Everyone read them with him.

Everyone read his online journal and everyone knew he was dating the three years younger Ashley Holdenbrook via the Heart2Heart dating service known to everyone as 2heart. Everyone knew they were a 95% match and the enjoyed the virtual coffee-house as a meeting place.

Everyone knew that his Mother’s name was Helen and his Father’s name was Jason. Everyone knew he was twenty-five and was born October 5th at a weight of seven pounds. Everyone knew he got his implants at seven years old. That’s when everyone met Sam. Everyone knew his first reaction was to try to run from the network until he discovered it was in his head and he couldn’t run. Then everyone watched as Sam was calmed down by the doctor. Everyone knew it was a normal child-hood adjustment.

Everyone knew that it was Sam’s routine to jog by the scenic water front at exactly 6:15pm. Everyone knew that Sam could run a six-minute mile by the water front. Everyone knew that the track was an exact square with right angles with one facing the water-front at the corner of Data and Tech Street. Everyone knew at this exact moment of 6:29pm Sam Harding was running at about 6mph with a heart rate of 100bpm up Data Street toward the corner. Everyone wondered why as he neared the corner he did not slow down. Everyone began to pay more attention to Sam as he began to speed up as he approached the corner of Data and Tech Street.

An alert was sent to his doctor who began to try to contact Sam directly, but everyone saw that Sam was not responding. Everyone watched as Sam’s eyes began to fill with tears and heard the groans of agony rip from his chest as is they were released from years of hiding. Everyone knew he worked for the hydro-works plant that made sure there was enough water and that it was safe for everyone. Because everyone knew that if someone’s head was completely submerged in water without any protective gear their implants would short and kill them in a matter of three minutes. Everyone knew that no one knew this better than Sam. Everyone knew that the authorities where trying to shut the conscious brain down through the implant to stop his progress to the water. Everyone knew they would be too late.

Everyone watched the final moments has Sam screamed and launched himself into the water. Everyone felt the connection with Sam break as the water severed the connection and he would be dead in three minutes.

For three minutes Sam Harding was alone, happy…

… and nobody knew.

The Gatekeepers to the Land of Normal

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There is a land called Normal that draws millions of pilgrims. They all come from the farthest reaches of the earth to enter the place called Normal. None of the pilgrims know why they wish to enter the Land of Normal, but they are driven by the terror of being left out of it. Many come through hazardous terrain, cross arid deserts, and scale high mountains to reach it. Many will give up their families and friends. Quite a few numbers give up their faiths just to enter the gilded gates to the place called Normal.  They will alter their bodies and induce strange fasting rituals to be deemed worthy to enter. Everyone knows the most challenging obstacle any pilgrim wishing to enter the land of Normal is getting past The Gatekeepers.

No one knows the names of The Gatekeepers. No one has really seen them. Some think that they are terrible ghouls who sworn to protect the land of Normal. Others claim that The Gatekeepers are enlightened angels who eyes see only what is pure and good. Whether angels or demons all the travelers agree; they are feared. The Gatekeepers demand high sacrifices, changes in personal clothing, and for some to alter their bodies before admitting them.

Great jubilation greets the new citezens of the land called Normal. Much fame is given to those who have reached the land of normal. The Land called Normal  gives festivals in their honor and their names are broadcast among the pilgrims as legends of greatness. Some write books to guide future pilgrims to this miraculous place and others warn of the perils of being an outsider. They are also given a book of by-laws written by The Gatekeepers. For the land of normal is a land of rules, and if they are once violated they bring banishment to the violator.

Those who have been banished can never come again to the land of normal. They are lost and forgotten by the great place, their names become a by-word to the pilgrims. A warning to others who would come to the land of normal: do not associate with the banished. Even speaking to them can bring down judgments of shunned from The Gatekeepers. The shunned judgment is what every pilgrim fears. The thought haunts the dreams of the pilgrims by night and causes the stress of their hearts by day.

The land of normal has a dark secret. The secret is known only to a few and The Gatekeepers. Once in the citizens of normal dare not venture out of the country’s borders.  An innocent walk can carry devastating consequences. The citizens of the land of normal know the awful truth that the pilgrims never know until too late.  The Gatekeepers are not guards who keep the world out, but wardens who keep prisoners in.

To give up your individuality is to give up your freedom.

Scribblings

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Have you ever had the urge to doodle in the margins of your notebook as a writer or as a simple class-note taker?  Do your notebooks hold drawings of shapes, lines, and random patterns that you are at a loss to explain to anyone else? And have you ever noticed that raw inspiration comes easier through lined notebook paper, than any version of Microsoft word? This is because of magical creatures that live in your notebook paper known as Scribblings.

  If you ever had a chance to see one it would probably look like the sum of your doodling in that particular notebook. There is usually around three Scribblings in an average seventy page notebook. In a giant five subject notebook there can be whole colonies of Scribblings all waiting with bursts of inspiration for the budding author. Scribblings are very important to any creative person’s success. It is important for every author of the notebook paper to understand the symbiotic relationship they have with Scribblings.

 It works like carbon dioxide and oxygen works for plants and humans. Scribblings get their energy from un-concentrated creativity. Those random doodles that come out of nowhere are their food. Now when digest the un-concentrated creativity they release concentrated creativity which becomes the start of poetry, essays, and poignant journal entries, or epic fictional ideas for the budding notebook author.

This is why people who never doodle find it difficult to be creative. They have starved their poor Scribblings for so long they have no energy to provide the essential creativity of the notebook paper. Whole communities of Scribblings in the five subject notebooks cab be in a sad states of famine. The poor Author finds his or her work dries up like a pen that is on its last few milliliters of ink. Feed your Scribbling and you may find your creative side coming back again. Although it may take time depending on how long it has been since your last doodle.

 However, this isn’t the only danger. Some notebook authors have a hard time saying no to demanding Scribblings and fill notebook after notebook of un-concentrated energy. This makes the scribbling fat and lazy. If overfed the Scribblings will just lie down and go to sleep. The poor notebook creator will find that after investing so much time in non-concentrated creativity they will have no ability to create the focused creativity that turns into something valuable. This author’s need to put their Scribblings on a strict diet until the weight comes off and the scribbling is returned to normal. A few papers of rigorous creating can be very healthy for an obese Scribbling.

 Do not forget the lesson of the Scribblings! A reasonable portion of undirected randomness can feed inspiration, but only a reasonable portion.

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