Monday, April 27, 2009

Painful Writer's Block

My friend, Jane, is going to an art retreat this weekend. She will spend five days and evenings in Virginia taking classes all revolving around her true passion: art. I could hear the click-clack of her excited fingers racing across the keyboard (our office cubicles are adjacent) as she messaged me a quick summary of her plans to engross herself in learning more skills and techniques in the art world. Even though I have no artistic skill (I could barely color between the lines in elementary school, let alone sodder a piece of metal into something elegant), I couldn't help getting sucked into her enthusiam.

I used to have enthusiam towards writing, and not for just the blog entries you read that appear here from time to time.

In elementary school, I would opt out of recess so that I could stay inside and finish a paragraph for a story I was writing. A story that wasn't part of any school assignment. I wrote 52 front-to-back scrawled pages, in pencil, of a short story titled "Being The New Kid Isn't Always Easy." I read a lot as a child, and I learned how to format dialogue from Judy Blume and Gertrude Chandler Warner (The Boxcar Children). I still have this story in my writing cabinet, though I wish it were in ink.

In middle school, I wrote song parodies. I loved making others laugh with my silly songs, even though I couldn't sing a bloody note. It didn't occur to me that "Weird Al" Yankovic had already snagged that claim to fame.

In high school, I wrote short stories about my friends as a method of escape during my parents' divorce (at least that's what the psychologist believed). I also completed my first poetry anthology.

In college, I used to ache to get back to my dorm room after a long lecture and scribble my creative flow onto a piece of paper. It would physically hurt if I couldn't express myself creatively. The four years I spent in college were definitely my Golden Years of writing; I was almost always writing something, whether it was for one of my numerous writing workshops, or a simple poem crafted while waiting for someone to show up with the weekend's booze.

And thus brings us to my current problem: I graduated four years ago and have done nothing towards furthering my creative writing skills. My first eight months out of college were spent trying to find a job where I would actually use my expensive education (only $15,867 left to pay off), while working in an administrative role that grew monotonous after day four.

I moved southbound across the country one week (literally) after graduation to work in the administrative role, a six-month temporary position, hoping to use it as a stepping stone to a writing career with a big entertainment company. I had no guarantee of a permanent position, but I also knew I didn't want to be living in my childhood bedroom after being semi-independent for four years at college. Love my parents and my siblings, but there was something unsettling about the situation.

So, I took a huge risk, and I highly recommend leaving the nest as quickly as possible after graduation. You need to be independent at some point, so why delay the inevitable? If you can't find a job, that's one thing-- I'm not promoting the kind of risk that could potentially leave you homeless in the street. But if you have a job that pays more than minimum wage, you can afford to move out of your parents' abode. I moved from Massachusetts to Florida with roughly $96.00 in my checking account and made out just fine, excluding the interesting roommate experiences, but we'll save that for another blog. But maybe you're one of the kids who does live on his or her own, but still receives an allowance from the 'rents. You know the type: dad still pays the credit card bill, or the you're still under the parents' car insurance. It's time to grow up and accept responsibility for your own life as an adult, even if you can't easily afford it.

I grasped an opportunity that was presented to me and now I write for a living. I actually get paid to write, and have been receiving said salary for a little over three years. But it's not the type of writing that anyone--my friends, my family, or even myself-- would have predicted. I'm proud of the work I produce, and I enjoy what I do, but there's a small part of me that's slowly dying. And, unfortunately, it's been dying since the day I received my diploma that stated, "Yes, you did concentrate in Creative Writing; now go forth and prosper."

I haven't written a poem in over a year. And sculpting an introduction to a short story makes my head hurt, since the words and quick phrases don't come to me as easily as they once did. But the death I'm referring to is not so much a death of skill (though it's clearly in skeletal form these days), but a death of motivation. Where is the motivation I once had to write? And this blog just doesn't count, in my mind anyway. The bank pages stare back at me, taunting me. I'm not sure which is worse: fear that I'm losing the one skill that I truly felt confident in, or the fear that I'm not even motivated enough to care.

In a way, I envy Jane's desire for her art. She's both skilled and motivated to sharpen those skills. Here's hoping I can shake a little motivation from the verbiage trees. Even if it's a brief love affair, it's better than the loneliness of writer's block.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Constant Manic Monday

Oh. Hi, blog.

I'd like to say the reason for my lack of dedication to my writing is a result of my busy schedule (read: my tendency to overbook and over commit). While this is partly true, it's certainly not a valid enough reason.

Not for me.

Not for someone who claims organizational skill and time management as natural as breathing.

Maximizing my time has become a bit... obsessive. More so than usual, which (if you know me) is scary. I'm multi-tasking to the extreme, making lists of my lists of things to do, resorting to informal mass emails to friends and family rather than phone calls to save time, checking friends' facebook status updates and considering myself fully informed of their personal lives. When an edict at work was announced that we must take our full hour lunch breaks (a 30 minute paid and a 30 minute unpaid break), my first thought was that's an extra 2.5 hours per week I'm going to lose and my mind launched into overdrive of how to make up that time.

I'm jumping over hurdles each day but never winning the race. Or so it feels.

But I go through spurts of this. It's an ebb and flow of manic planning and a packed calendar. Eventually, the banshee screaming in my ear to "plan Plan PLAN!" takes a vacation, balance resumes, and all is right with the world.

Such is the life of of someone with an OCD. Sometimes it's tough to keep my thoughts and emotions in check, but I think I've been doing a fairly decent job at maintaining normalcy the past 16 years.

I've had plenty to write about the past month or so with the various changes in my coroporate surroundings, or the wedding plans, or my volleyball teams, or a few minor squabblings with loved ones. But, with the way I've been feeling, it would been spewn across the screen as a neurotic jumbled stream of consciousness that may not have been literate English and it would have been littered with run-on sentences and careless typos merely because I have too much that I need to get out but I'm not capable of typing fast enough because I don't even type correctly to begin with.

And this, my dear readers, is why I haven't written lately.