13 November 2010

April in Paris, Part the Second

Here's the second in a series of thoughts and meditations on the words of some of my favorite writers from their interviews in The Paris Review.
It turns out it’s not that I hate to write. I hate, simply, to work. I just hate to work, period. I am profoundly slothful. Practically inert. I have no energy. I never have. I just have no desire to be productive. Now that I realize I don’t hate to write, that I just hate to work, it makes writing easier.

The Paris Review - A Humorist at Work, Fran Lebowitz

Unlike Fran, I desire to be productive.  Thirty or forty years from now, I'd love to have a phone-book-sized tome of The Complete Short Fiction of Don P. published, like Bradbury, or Ballard, or Card, or Ellison.  But like her, though, I am got'damn lazy.  Now, I have my own methods for tricking myself out of my own laziness.  I couldn't possibly list them all, and different methods will work at different times.  But this post isn't about that.  It's about giving a name to whatever it is that blocks your writing--not the 101 reasons you might have for not getting shit done, but that single cause that's there once you boil away your rationale.

Every writer I know or know of has reasons for not getting writing done.  Jobs, problems, spouses, children, children with special needs, parents with special needs, &c.  And yet, they publish.  But, while I firmly believe that if people who work their dayjobs while undergoing chemotherapy can still get their writing done, you can, too, this isn't a guilt-trip post either.  I'm not going to tell you to just STFU and get it done.  Not in this post (especially since I already have in others). 

What I will encourage a writer to do is to get to the core of whatever it is that stops you and, aside from doing whatever you have to do to overcome it, to first just get off your own back about it.

See, I know exactly when I'm not writing for no other reason than "I'm just not feeling it," which is fucking unacceptable.  Or, "I'm too tired."  Or, "I've had a hard day at work and I'm just emotionally drained right now."  Or, "I'm blocked."  Pfft.  Bullshit.  I may or may not be treating myself fairly, but to me all those reasons have my personal laziness as their root.  And knowing that makes the next step surprisingly simple.  Because what am I going to do?  Cry about it?  To what end? 

Better to just make a choice.  To either CHOOSE to be okay and sit with the regret and irritation that comes along with not writing, or CHOOSE to use one of my aforementioned tricks to get myself back on the ball.  Because bitching about how I'm not writing gets old really, really fast.  Just ask Mrs. P.

Next time: The reason I write short stories.