Thursday, September 16, 2010

Fiction and Frustration: The writing process, unemployment, e-mails.

Roman Verostko "Genesis"
On the one hand, my friends, I am not getting enough freelance work and am scared about my future plans. Well, there is only one plan right now, to hold onto my rent-stabilized apartment. So I look for work but am seduced--or allow myself, or pretend nothing is going to work out so I might as well. . .--by writing.

Case in point:  Monday I worked in an ad agency from two to ten (afternoon to evening), copyediting and proofreading. The flow was steady. I earned my money and return tomorrow, Friday. In between?

Tuesday morning I did the usual coffee drinking, NPR listening, moments of thoughtfulness, and started to "feel," for me a dangerous activity AT TIMES. This kind of "feeling," depressive, was the enemy for years.  I thought it couldn't be battled.

A friend of mine once  joked with me that we could have written a novel or two (or a year's worth of stand-up routines in her case) in the time we spent having feelings.

Tuesday as feelings descended I thought of a different friend, T. A month ago I realized I'd fallen back on my lazy non-writing ways and asked T. if I could email every day, for a while, to report. Five minutes. Two hours. Edited. Wrote. Like that. T.'s a good, as in goooood, writer, with a day job and a nice flow of output.

Soon after I email T. a responsive note appears with his output for the day. I hadn't planned on that part of the exchange, initially, and was, at first, only begrudgingly willing (or able) to read of T.'s work. I did the emails for a month last year with another writer who merely responded: Great work!

More and more, however, I knew T.'s output to be inspiration. On Tuesday when I was headed for that morass of depressive nihilistic thinking, I remembered T. Did I want to email "no work, I had to flagellate"? 

So I wrote a draft of a new story on Tuesday. I was at it (maniacally so) for five hours. I haven't yet taken a look at what I wrote--the steam of intensity is still too hot to allow approach--but whatever I wrote needed expression if only so it could be cleared and another story written. (Not saying it isn't good--I've written three new short stories this year and I'm happy with all three.) Just saying, well, who knows.

Time off, as in unemployed, makes my writing richer. Not being alone with my writing helps; definitely helps.  (I'm not a workshop person.) The balance between work and writing remains unsteady.

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