I can write an incredible number of words when I’m on a roll and then I can get blindsided. Busking in the subway spouting bad poetry hoping for words to be dropped into my empty coffee cup. Some writers call it a writer’s block and in one way I can agree but I prefer to call it a safety stop. If writing a book is a hike, then occasionally I encounter a stream, river or ocean. I need to get across and sometimes the story provides a ferry or a bridge, other times I’m going to have to find my own way across. I can do it dirty and hope I can later replace the rickety board I used with a horse who likes fording water. And this stream of metaphor consciousness is just a evasive way of saying I have encountered a glitch.
My simple, uncomplicated plot suffers an attack that reminds me of a Star Wars movie I saw recently –the characters are running for their lives trying to avoiding landmines, being stepped on by big robots and avoiding whole sections of earth being blasted away by space ship lasers. I thought it was going to be so smooth, I drew up a lovely outline, uncomplicated plot, all character driven but suddenly chaos. Whose lobbing the grenades? The President of the United States. Suddenly, the CIA isn’t giving daily briefings, so do I change the year my story takes place, in the past or do I accept a new reality? How do my agents, in the middle of a mission, react to their world being turned upside down or do they shrug it off and keep going? Are they trusting their superiors and hoping they stay under the radar of the new bosses? Somedays, these decisions feel real and really overwhelming. Of course, they are not real; but, when your creative energy is sucked dry by Senate confirmation hearings, even deciding what’s for supper can become overwhelming. Eventually, dystopian scenarios seem far more interesting.
By mid-week I found myself avoiding FaceBook, reading headlines and feeling the tug of the page. So, was I blocked or simply waiting for the spring melt to subside, so I can cross the brook? At least, the raging river now looks more like a clear water brook and the other side shows a clear path through the woods. My agents are patiently waiting for me, giving me the thumbs up and assuring me they’ll be okay. One character is even arguing that his death is totally not necessary but I’m afraid his negotiations are falling on deaf ears.
I asked my therapist last week, if I was neurotic. She assured me that I was fine (think Louise Penny’s f.i.n.e.) and simply responding to today’s real crisis of government and not being traumatized. The fact that I am pulling my rage back in favor of protecting my creative energy is normal and healthy. I am seeing more clearly what I can and can not control and DC crazy is out of my control today. Tomorrow? Next Year? In my control at the voter’s booth but today, I’m going to take names and keep notes.