When Writer's Block Sprouts Flowers Where Butterflies Land
I'm going out on a limb here because I have been pushing against a writer's block for a month. What does writer's block look like in my world? A large, broken hunk of concrete with rusty twisted rebar jutting out. While that image may not be pleasant, that's what's sitting in front of my creative outlet these days.
Blogging is harder than I thought it would be. As a one time aspiring writer of short stories, I thought I knew what hard business it was to write creatively. I figured blogging would be slightly easier, because here I was reigned in by topic - Tame Space is all about exploring the "too much stuff" problem and it's cultural expression around the world. It's also about lifestyle and inspiration. So narrow a subject could hardly be that difficult, right? Right?
And still, I get in these stuck places where something I see online or in an art installation or a relevant local business profile or something in the news and a chord is struck. But when I start to write the chord goes sour. I know I'm mixing metaphors here, but bear with me for a moment. I try to strike the perfect tone in my blog posts of hey, look at this, isn't this neat? I know I am vying for your attention against so many way juicier news / social media / actual face time with your family, etc. but see how inspiring / productive / life changing this is?
But I go tone deaf at times and nothing I write sounds right. I write sentences and delete immediately. And it's a steady spiral down from there. Why do I bother? This is dumb. I wish I could just get a real job with a boss and where I could depend on a salary even while I spend my day on the internet shopping for the perfect sports bra.
Alas, the hard truth is I'm making a go at blogging about a job I love, trolling the internet for all the ways in which this problem has seeped in our collective conscious, doing my civic duty to spread the word about "ethical steam vents" for the urban dweller's too much stuff problem in NYC. Oh, and also running the afore mentioned business venture with all the street marketing, lack of start up capital, market vagaries and revenue ebb and flow involved in the freelancing life. Oy.
Then, at a creative meeting with two freelancing friends, one of them (an amazing artist whose work you see in the background of my website. thank you Marta Blair!) wisely shared a piece of advice from their former painting teacher, Larry Koons.
"Don't try to do the right thing, just do the next one."
Just the inspiring quote to get me out of my writing doldrums. An efficient nudge. Don't get me wrong, I follow all kinds of inspirational/ creative writing blogs like Maria Popova's wildly popular Brain Pickings, Ted Talks (although I tire of those easily lately), Creative Mornings, Swiss Miss, 99U etc. Nothing was really getting to the bottom of my pity pot of "boo hoo, blogging is hard and writing is hard and running a business is hard and oh me, oh my."
This quote, for whatever reason, perhaps only because it came from a talented friend I so admire, formed just the wedge between me and the broken hunk of concrete with twisted rebar. That previously mentioned hard truth, that I am blogging as a natural outlet for this business I created (and that it's a place you can get stuck in despite not caring as much as say a short story you'd like to submit for publication someday), well the hard truth seems to sprout flowers where butterflies land on a perfect June day.
And another thought just occurred to me, and this is that I actually do care what I write, even in this restricted topic because I am sharing a point of view I have come to care about immensely. And I care about this so much because I've had so many sessions with clients that end in a fairy tale way.
When I say fairy tale, I don't mean that I have some magical gift that I bestow on people during a project and they shower me with gifts. I mean that when we complete a project together, more often than not, we have become friends. We have handled the things that they believed were essential to who they were. Every kept item has a story about it's keeper. And I live for those stories, they are rich and wonderful and make me feel in touch with what is the same about all of us, our similarities. That's as fairy tale as this world can be.
Who wouldn't love to do what I do? It's like people-watching taken to an unheard of level. I am not a therapist, yet I am privy to so much. I am not a doctor, yet I can see the hurt. How the heck do I know where it hurts?
Ah, that's a story to be told another time. And now that my writer's block has been nudged aside just enough to let the ideas flow, I'll get back to work.