2.16.2013

Fast Writing > A Writing Fast and Appendix/spleen/kidneys


Like I said, I've been on a writing fast. A cleanse. Like one of those crash diets where you drink nothing but juice for three days and feel really lightheaded and grumpy for a couple days until you get real food in your stomach. In case you missed it, writing is the food of this analogy. Forget that. You can go without writing for way more than seven days. You don't exactly die from not writing. It's a close thing, though.

When you stop writing, you feel diminished. You feel like someone, probably you, and probably not sober, has scooped out your appendix/spleen/kidney and put it in a jar, on a shelf in your office cubicle. You insist that writerness is still a part of your identity, and make up story ideas to go nowhere. Or maybe you insist it isn't, and curse the day you ever set pen to paper, or words to Word. In any case, you can technically live without that pile of organs, because what good do they do anyway? You can see them there on your shelf, just chillin next to your motivational cat-on-a-branch picture. Even if you poke them once in a while, they starts to get kind of rotty looking and smell of vague discontent.

Half the books on writing tell you -- if you can do something else, if you can live without writing, do that thing. Have a real career path that won't make you miserable with the innumerable rejections and conniptions and contortions and exasperations, etc. But sometimes that's too hard. You may not realize it immediately, but it will drag you down, the slow certainty that something is wrong, that someone is wrong, and they're not even on the internet. Someone is wrong, and they're inside your head. So you realize, slowly, that you gotta do that writing thing anyway, because, let's face it, if you're going to be reading vitriolic spleen, you want it to be your spleen.*

You pick up the old jar and look at it dubiously. It's a dangerous surgery, stuffing that appendix/spleen/kidney back in place. Your writing organs may or may not have atrophied. Picked up unwanted influences. Infected you with the T-virus or worse, something sparkling. You aren't even sure you can remember to stitch them into the right places. But hey, you know you have to try.

Remember to take some time to recover from the surgery. It's a lifestyle you gotta train for. Go slow and establish habits. At least in the beginning, take it easy. If you run too fast and the stitches will burst open and it'll be awkward when your organs fall out and you find yourself throwing them back in the desk-jar in frustration.

Writing is hard. Not writing is harder.

Go write me a story.



*Context maybe? Ursula K. LeGuin was accused of raging with some "notorious bloodthirsty manhating feminist spleen." -A Fisherman of the Inland Sea (her book, not the accuser).
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