serve the servants

My friend Otis wrote, "I’m in one of those stupid cycles where nothing is quite interesting
enough for a blog post. I’m not getting out much for obvious reasons
and home life is fairly rote (except for the parts that aren’t)."

I sure am glad he wrote that, because I've been feeling this weird, uninspired malaise for weeks, and I haven't quite been able to identify exactly why until just now: I've been so busy finishing Memories of the Future, I haven't been getting out and doing anything that's interesting enough to warrant more than a passing mention on Twitter. Boy, am I relieved to know that it's not me, it's just my life that's boring at the moment. (Or, um, something like that. That sounded funnier in my head. Anyway, moving on…)

Otis and I are alike in a lot of ways, and often say that I'm the West Coast version of him, and he's the East Coast version of me. The obvious reasons he referred to are all related to the recent birth of his second child, and while my reasons are similar, they are also profoundly different: the child I've been caring for is a bunch of words in a manuscript, not an actual human being in a crib. It's a comparison that probably seems presumptuous and wildly inappropriate to normal people, but if you've ever done work that's creatively demanding, I think you'll be able to understand the parallel.

Speaking of creatively demanding work: Around the middle of the day on Friday, I finally finished all the major rewriting and editing on Memories of the Future, and sent it off to Andrew for judicious application of his Red Pen of Doom. I still need to write the introduction and the acknowledgments, but I think I'm going to put that off for a day or two, because I seriously need to recharge if I want that stuff to be written from a point of view that's enthusiastic and celebratory, not worn down and exhausted.

Before I save this, I wanted to share something I came across this morning that's incredibly valuable for writers. From Ken Levine's blog: What do you do when you get stuck?

This happens often as you write your script or novel. You come to a
point where you think you’ve written yourself into a corner. A plot
point requires something and you just can’t get there. Wait
a minute, he can’t swim to safety; he’s in a wheelchair. Exactly how is
she going to get to the Pope to sell him Girl Scout cookies?

This is one of the benefits of a being in a partnership – sometimes he can solve it.

But when working alone, here are four handy tips…

And now, I'm off to write this week's column for the LA Daily. I'm looking forward to that, because there's an arcade machine involved.

22 thoughts on “serve the servants”

  1. Glad to see I am not the only one that is going through this at the moment. I am having an issue being creative in another fashion. I have two interviews this week that are very important. One that deals with a sensitive subject for this organization that has hired me to do a PR broadcast thingy for them and the other is my geek interview with Phil on Friday. Some of the subject matter we are going to be discussing he has talked to death over the past few weeks, so I am trying to come up with some creative questions on said subject matter that have not been answered plus come up with topics that do not get enough attention.
    PLUS I had to deal with my house being broken into after he played poker the other night. Bastard tried crawling into my youngest son’s bedroom window.
    BLARGH is all I have to say. When you get out of the house, please send me some fun vibes.
    P.S. as a mother and creative type I totally grok your own labour pains

  2. Yeah, I think I have it, too. I’ve been feeling like I’m too boring to exist for the past couple of weeks. I chalked it up to the fact that it’s just me but perhaps the “Malaise of Meh” is going around. I’ve had two weeks of a break between classes and I was going to do all this great, creative stuff. But after an exhausting semester where I generated more new work and thoughts than I have in the past three years I’ve spent it playing the same computer game or watching the same few movies. I’m definitely made of meh right now.

  3. Oddly enough a Twitter you made a few days back has helped with this. When I hit that wall for whatever reason on one of my own writing projects – I’ve been going over to play on Ficly.com. Playing there for a bit often knocks something loose. So thanks – I didn’t even know it was back.

  4. Funnily enough, it works with my husband. He gets more than enough thinking done on the Porcelain Throne.
    Now I want to know how the Pope will get his Girl Scout cookies. Damn you, Wil, for making me think!

  5. I’m sorry. :( I do empathize with feeling meh right now. My break ends Thursday. Then it’ll be another year until I get a break! *le sigh*

  6. Word to the four things to do. Unfortunately, those don’t help when your characters just sit and chat, instead of moving forward to advance a plot you could get moving if they, you know, stopped talking.
    Then I go write a different story.

  7. I’ve felt in a blogging/writing dry spell as well, and I’m glad I’m not alone. It’s great reading these comments and feeling as though I’m in a community of writers. I often feel so alone in that world, even though I do it just for fun. I have all these self-defeating thoughts like – “I suck,” or, “that character has no depth”,..or “I’ll never finish, and who would want to read it anyway.” I have to realize that its okay to have a shitty first draft, and its okay to have writer’s block, its okay to commiserate online with my fellow geeks. You all rock!

  8. Yeah, I get writers block with my poetry all the time. There was one point where I hadn’t written one in almost 3 years. You gotta feel it or else it’s not from the soul, so I gave up trying to force myself. If it’s worth it, i’ll wait.

  9. Off topic….but since I don’t twitter:
    Wil, did you see that Aeofel is now included as a ‘sample character’ in the latest Character Builder update? Awesome portrait too! :)
    How does it feel to have your personal character bundled in with the likes of Drizzt and Raistlin?
    I can’t wait for the minis. ;)

  10. I want that stuff to be written from a point of view that’s enthusiastic and celebratory, not worn down and exhausted.
    That’s a really cool thought. I’m a science teacher. In an odd way, that’s exactly the thought that goes through my head before I write a test. I don’t want to be tired or in a bad mood because that’ll be reflected in the difficulty [no, that's not the word I'm looking for... more like just easier to understand] of the questions.
    I think that’s why finals are so tough sometimes. They’re written at the end of the term when the teachers are worn out. Hmmmm. Maybe if I started writing questions for my finals earlier on and just let them accumulate through the term… but that would require actual planning and forethought. Pssshhhht!

  11. Poor dears.. I’ve had the malaise for over a decade now, with only a few pinpoints of light shining through the darkness… Just enough to spur me on, but not enough to really get anywhere. False starts sputtering into nothingness; half formed thought that used to flow from my fingertips now stagnate somewhere between the brain and keyboard; dull ache just a tiny bit left of the center of my soul.
    Malaise? Perhpas. Or perhaps a deeper rot has settled upon me. I hope I shake it someday. I’d love to get back to what I have always lived to do.

  12. Hmmm. An interesting comparison child and blog/writing. I have been browsing a few of you WWdN -not in exile- posts and it dawned on me that it is quite a profound thing you’re doing. Committing your thoughts and life to blog, print, movie, papyrus or heiroglyph does indeed give life to your thoughts. More, it captures this time and place for ever. Who knows what may become of some random mixture of thought, memory and experience. Your thoughts are you. Everyone is a unique combination of their life’s experience and their thoughts reflect that and random projections about it.

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