Wow.

I am surprised by my ability to write, today. I hurt.

Not bad. Because, I can write. But, when I have painful days that are not bad, I sometimes ask why I should bother.

The answer is that I never know what will happen after trying. Each day of practice is another chance to crack the hard shell of the walnut. The meat is tasty. Yes.

I just wrote a passage for the narrative that forms the basis of my book. Today, I can hold my head high. On my pillow, as I drift to sleep.

For everyday, ordinary.

Writer’s block. I highly recommend three books. They were recommended to me. I’m just passing them on. I present them in the order I read them. These are the three classics, in my library of writing books. My hard copies are all on loan, and I don’t expect them back. Just keep them in circulation.

The first is Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg. This book transformed how I approach my daily practice. In fact, I didn’t actually have a daily practice, prior to reading this. My first year of writing, I had a regular practice, but not daily. And, I focused on producing manuscripts.

Natalie completely changed my approach. She taught me to write from within a journal. Some people can produce lots of great books, just working up manuscripts. But, that’s not her approach. And now, it is neither mine.

The next is The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield. A book to disabuse the aspiring writer that there is any short path to success. It is work. It can be brutal. Get used to it. It is a job, like any other. Grind, in order to succeed.

The last is The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. I have had a funny relationship with this book. First, Wen Ling had to hit me over the head with it (only figuratively), to get me to read it. I wouldn’t. Then, I actually began this book before The War of Art. But, I finished the latter, first. Then, after my diagnosis, and as my last year of software-engineering played out, I ignored the title on my Nook. My symptoms had overwhelmed me. I could sense that Julia’s book would require more effort than I could provide, in that moment. So it sat waiting for the right conditions, before I would open it.

I came back to it naturally, as I renewed my creative effort. I had just spent the better part of two years writing, or, as I imagine it, thinking physically, about all the stuff happening in my life. Wen Ling and I had separated. Then, I discovered I had this health challenge. Followed by an adjustment period. Journaling helped me to come through all of this with an optimistic and accepting attitude. Somewhere around November/December of 2012, I began to think creatively, again.

Initially, I wanted to return to the book I had abandoned, before my symptoms had begun to dictate my days. I had already discovered the first of five principles for dealing with my symptoms. (More on this in my next post.) I had had just an absolutely great concept for a book. But, when I tried to pick it up again, something was missing.

I found it difficult to resume that relationship. Too much had passed in the interim. The story felt distant, to me.

I needed new inspiration. This is when I turned to The Artist’s Way. I have seen a number of reviews, by people who say it is just a bunch of ‘New Age Hooey’. I completely disagree.

Julia Cameron will ask you to do some strange stuff, in the way of weekly exercises. For instance, one of the exercises I undertook was to pray for creativity. Now, understand, I am an atheist. But, I did the exercise, because I was serious about unlocking my creativity.

The book contains Julia’s philosophy, in twelve lessons, each with exercises. These twelve chapters are intended to be followed, in order, one chapter per week. And, Julia tells people that the exercises must be followed. You can’t unlock your creativity just by reading about it.

Well, I had a deep burning intention to do just that. This atheist prayed, and did a lot of the other exercises, too. I even adopted the attitude that I would take on the all of the difficult assignments, to better challenge myself.

Somewhere in week seven, my creativity unlocked. I began my current project. I’ll go back and finish the The Artist’s Way, someday. I think the people who pan the book are just too stiff to be exercised.

Writer’s block is no match for honest effort, and these three books. I recommend them all. Julia asks the most of the reader, in terms of follow-along practices. Brand new writers, I might tend to steer toward Writing Down the Bones, instead. Natalie appeals to the youth in all of us. The War of Art most resembles a pep-talk. Sometimes we need a good pep-talk. This would be a great book for a newly crushed writer, after sharing their first bad work. Pick yourself up. Get back on that horse!

These three books are better, for blocked writers, than what I will share. Instead, beginning in my next post, I will spin a tale of what happened after I took all three to heart, and tried to write a book as my health continued to deteriorate. This past year was my most challenging, yet. But, by applying the idea that my disease was just a form of writer’s block, I discovered some adaptations that have allowed me to find the energy, and the mental clarity, to begin my book. I couldn’t say this, even one month ago. Back then, when I told people I am writing a book, I never hid the fact that I wrote everything in my journal.

Now. I am beginning my book. It is no longer confined to my journal. I am back to working up manuscripts. In addition to journaling. (I would love for readers to share their favorite books on writing, in the comments section below. Or, blog about yours, and share a link to your physical thoughts, as a comment/pingback.)

When my blog goes dormant.

My symptoms are to blame. I have increasingly been struggling with thinking. I am fairly certain that this is disease-related. And, when I can’t think, my writing bores.

I have been wanting to post something to my blog, each and every day that I fail to do so. Lately, I can’t trust my own judgement, as to what is worth sharing. In fact, on many days, reading anything at all is difficult. And, when I can’t follow a simple narrative, I am a defeated judge of quality.

The good news is that while I have been struggling to think, I have also made headway in dealing with the problem. Today is a perfect example. A myotonic-dystrophy fatigue forced me to nap this afternoon. Pain invaded my sleep. I nodded off tired and woke with a raging muscle ache. Everything hurts, but my head and neck distinguish themselves in this rodeo.

Normally, I wouldn’t be capable of writing for my blog under these conditions. But, today is no typical day. Today, my efforts at fighting through brain-haze are paying dividends.

While I might not have made much progress with my book, these past eight months, I have learned quite a bit about managing my symptoms. In the past, I have referred to this condition as writer’s block. But now, I would be wrong to do so. I know better. I would like to share with you some of what I have learned. For, today, in spite of my symptoms. I not only can read. I can write.

My pact with you. Our common understanding.

I am going to begin posting a new narrative to my blog.

When I began this blog, I thought I knew what I wanted to say. My problem was that I had not yet identified the proper voice for sharing my thoughts.  And, I hadn’t fully understood my need to really distinguish what belongs on my blog, what belongs in my book, and what should remain in my own journal.

But, now that I have worked some of this out, I would like to begin sharing it with you.  But, I am going to share it in a series short posts that, in aggregation will tell a story.  There is a reason for this.  I promise to share this with you in due time.

I promise to post daily, beginning at some future date in the not too distant future.  I will begin posting daily after I have accumulated enough pieces to sustain my inevitable droughts.  I will tell you when my daily posting will begin.

Soon.  I promise.

Soon.

 

A funny thing happened, while writing.

I was just called by a pollster.  She asked my permission to engage in a few questions on current topics.

I told her.

No.  My opinions do not aggregate well.  I am a unique perspective.  I am a writer.

I was surprised at how spontaneously, powerfully, and politely, I conveyed my thoughts,  before hanging up.

I loved that I didn’t wait for her response.  Saying no feels good, when it means saying yes to something more important.

I think I am going to use this line for the forceable future, until my message gets out there, on metaphorical paper.

My opinions do not aggregate well.  I am the aggregator.  I am here to make sense of your data.

Elaborating on yesterday’s post.

While I retain the ability to think about my story, during this latest episode of symptoms, the willingness to write is diminished.

I can think about my story. I can have new insights. But it is still a challenge, in this state, to find the energy to develop the narrative.

That’s what I’m trying to overcome, right now. That is why I’m posting these brief thoughts.

Traction overcomes inertia.

Things my characters would say.

I am recovering from an intense period of brainstorming that was very beneficial to the evolution of my writing.  But I am back, to actively telling a story.

I finally understand the text I am writing, as the synthesis of all the possibilities I wined and dined in my mind.  Is it fiction?  Check.  Is it memoir? Fuzzy check.

At one point, I thought I was exploring a new space called Fantasy Memoir.  I don’t know if there is such a thing.  There probably is, because when I think I have a good idea, if I look hard enough I will find others preceded me in that particular line of imagination.

But, I have also explored different options to speak my thoughts as non-fiction.  That, though, would require something different than what my spirit wants to say.  My spirit wants a Meta-Myth.

I have found that my spirit, when I judge that it is grounded in appropriate aspirations, typically identifies fruitful avenues.  And, my spirit is telling me to write a myth about myth.

This evening, I once again sat down to work on my manuscript.  And, I wrote a bunch of stuff that doesn’t belong in that piece.  But, it belongs in the story.  So, I have within my Scrivener project, folders for what different characters might say.  And, I am further breaking it down by having individual pages of possible statements and thoughts for each main character at the beginning of the story, the middle, and the end.

My writing style is haphazard, in the sense that I follow inspiration where it takes me.  To hell with the narrative, when great ideas come for individual moments.  So, I write them where I am, which is my draft.  And then, I have to pull them back out.  I just read what I wrote this evening.  It’s all great.  But, none of it seems to go together.

Tomorrow, I will re-organize today’s writing, as a warm-up activity, after my journaling, but before my story-telling.  I approach my writing as a potter explores hand-built pieces.  I am developing a narrative for all of the individual inspirations, that provide context for a truth I seek to convey.

 

My first trip here, in my wheelchair.

I feel like hell today.  But, this is why I have this chair.  I can still do something.

I ran into my neighbor, and her daughter, in the driveway.  They were happy for me.  Then, at McClintock, I caught the bus to Southern.  Forcing myself to go beyond self-consciousness.  My first surprise was learning that the bus is not free to wheelchairs.  I thought it was.  My bad.

And now, here I am.  First time, in my favorite coffee shop.

In my wheelchair.

I received it yesterday afternoon.  In my driveway.  Running, again, into my neighbors.  I was very grateful, but I felt guilty.  I felt well enough, in yesterday’s hot afternoon, to question whether the chair was a necessity.

But, after dark, with a strong, spring, wind blowing, I took it for a spin to the corner store, for a bag of chips.  Just to have something to do on a dark and mysterious evening.

And yes.  I was high.

I caused a bit of a headache for the store owner, by trying to breach the front door from my seat.  It took a minute of struggle, before he came to my aid.  He apologized, profusely.  But, I insisted I needed to learn how to do these things.  And then.

I got stuck.  I made it through the door, and down the first tiny aisle, brushing some few snacks to the floor.  And, I turned the corner, to find myself.

Cornered.  No path, back to the counter, except from where I came.  I had to back up, because he had crowded the floor so tight with merchandise.  But first.

I grabbed a bag of Lay’s.  Then, the owner spent a couple, more minutes, backing me with hand signs and instructions.  Pronounced, Bengali.

I was embarrassed, because I could have used my cane and my car, if I really wanted those chips.  Instead, we enjoyed our own private circus, because I was curious to do this, once the day had cooled.

I hope he enjoyed it.  I thought it was fun, except for putting him out.

But, by the time I returned to the garage, and plugged it in, I had decided that, I only made the trip because I had the chair.  Otherwise, I did feel crappy enough that, before yesterday, without it.  I would have rationalized.

I wasn’t very hungry for chips.  And here I am, this evening, in my favorite coffee shop, writing.  This definitely would not have happened, feeling like this, before yesterday.

This is wonderful.  I am beyond self-conscious.  I am happy.

Awkward

Out of my head.
Got it.
Down, in some physical form.
Memory, accessed externally.
Rather than.

Solely residing in my head.
For, only a moment.
Before gone. Write thoughts, to make them.
Real.

Unless written, they remain etherial.
Essential, and missing. Unable, too.

Make points. Make jokes. Make sense.

Speaking, more primitive.
Than writing.

Stumbling, over faulty recall.
That next word. Spoken tokens, embedded in grammar.
Queued up, within the mind. Around each thought. Then.

One wanders off.
Lost again.
In the dark unconscious.
Too shy to be said.