Curious topic, eh? Never thought I'd write something like this, but I sold my soul to the corporate devil here recently, for real green money, and I'm actually having fun doing it, and the company is actually awesome, full of awesome people and ideas, yet I found this one interesting caveat to it. Just to get the facts straight, I only consult for one full Monday, 4 Mondays in September, so I can't vouch for how it feels when one works full time and writes in the evenings and on the weekends, but I have been spoiled since last May by writing full time, and this whole working and then getting back into writing has hit me really hard. I realize, I better get used to it, since I don't expect to make any money from my books for at least 2 more years anyway, and after that it will be 3 years, and after that Hemingway says I should quit writing because obviously if nobody wants to buy my books or support me as a writer, it means that my writing is shit. However, we shall diverge from this depressing topic and come back to the original one, which might be even more depressing, as you will see in a moment, so maybe you should abandon this blog post reading business and go have a drink. What, still here? Okay, I warned you.
Depressing truth number 1: working takes a tremendous amount of mental energy. By working I don't mean moving around huge blocks of concrete or operating helicopters, though it sounds very enticing. Both of them, actually. What I mean is the typical working environment we are inhabiting today, you know, the days of the internets and stuff. And the way it looks is this: a bunch of people hunch over a bunch of monitors, silently, sending each other emails when they are an arm's length away, occasionally exchanging a joke, or, worse, a stab in the back with that carefully planned weapon called "office politics" to the unsuspecting green employee, and at times these same people congregate in room for meetings, where they discuss things they just wrote to each other in the emails, to get out of the room and write more emails about what they have just talked about. I think it's a beautiful picture of the working environment, don't you think? Just exactly the type of stuff we've been cut out to do, right? Right. I'd like to see your face right now, because my face looks the same. The problem with this self-imposed structure is that our primeval wild nature screams against it (ever heard about creative brainstorming meetings office workers try to have, to superficially ignite their excitement?), we were designed to do things spontaneously, as they occur, the whole planning and making to-do lists originated from our need to be able to do business, to organize chaos. We got really good at it, but it takes A LOT OF WORK. But, unfortunately, the creative mind thrives in creative chaos.
Depressing truth number 2: writing takes a tremendous amount of mental energy. I thought I'd do this joke on you, with the same titles, just to make you smile. But, really, here is the deal. After each day of consulting I felt like every fucking circuit in my brain got rewired into a box and needed to be untangled into its previous gloriously tangled messy state, from which I could pull out the strands of my story, fetching them with a bird call and weaving them into something ephemeral that I could later, when baked at the appropriate temperature, call a novel. I consulted yesterday, and it was great. I started writing today, and for 2 hours it was really bad. My head just wouldn't switch, it's like I had to force myself into that careless unstructured being, to feel my characters, to feel the flow of the story, to be able to write again. I felt pathetic. I cried a little. I got very angry at myself. I got down to the kitchen and ate a peach. I got back upstairs, stared at the screen, then got down to the kitchen and ate another peach. In the end, by some sheer will, I somehow forced my way into the beginning of the chapter and slowly forgot my troubles, but boy, was it hard! I mean, to all of you who do this every day, I don't know how you do it, I would love to fall to my knees and bow to you, because I don't have this skill. It's damn hard!
Depressing truth number 3: switching from day job to writing takes a tremendous amount of mental energy. You thought I'd had it with you? No, I didn't. I'm in an evilly tired mood right now, and I gotta spill it somewhere. Although, if you look at it objectively, I'm not puling your leg, I'm being totally truthful. The actual process of switching takes time. It took me 2 hours, whole 2 hours! Now, you might be a wizard and it might take you 5 minutes, I don't know. I knew a guy who wrote his novel in 1 hour increments, by sitting down every morning before breakfast and spending his lunch hour and then 1 hour after dinner. Just switching alone would kill me. If you think about it, then you will see where the whole concept of a writer's block might creep in. I think it might be really not the block you're experiencing, it might be this numb staring at the screen or blank page that doesn't produce anything because your brain is simply in limbo state. Like, really. Like, it needs to switch first. Like, it screams, give me a break and let me get into gear! Ever tried playing a joke on your body, as in, not sleeping for several nights and thinking you'd show it who's the boss? Remember how your body got the last laugh, made you sick, and made you sleep more than you needed? Yeah, same here. There is simple biology against which you're battling, and you can't jump over your own physical restraints. Well, not true, you can, with coffee or other wonderful stimulant, but it will only last so long.
So, what's the solution? Oh, gosh, to suck it up, of course! That's what I plan to do, anyway. My thinking is, I'm spoiled. My thinking is, if I do enough of this, I will get more comfortable, I will switch faster, and I will learn new limits. Well, I hope, at least, that I will be able to. So far, still drinking coffee and my body hasn't freaked out on me. Yet.