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Cathy: Uninspired

I don’t know if it’s because I’m still waiting for some feedback on my manuscript, or because of the weather and time of year, or because I recently completed my first larger scale writing project since my thesis in college about 20 years ago, but for a couple months now, I have felt completely uninspired to write.

In the past, when I have felt this uninspired, I generally have felt depressed or frustrated by the absolute emptiness of my head. This time around I just feel pooped which can be attributed to the lack of sleep with a toddler who still wakes three times a night at least. The other feeling I have is vaguely satisfied, generally upbeat. Now, again, I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the manuscript or just maturity level over aged forty.

It’s summer and all the kids are as around as a teen can be when all his friends are back from their extended vacations that did not coincide with his visit to his father the previous month. S is always around, hovering upstairs drawing and reading or tapping me on the shoulder and Momming me repeatedly; and of course, Baby C is generally underfoot, when she’s not on top of something like Honey’s closed laptop on his desk. So, for me to sit in front of the computer is generally a continuously interrupted thing to do times three. During the school year, I generally have the mornings to myself, with my mother-in-law out doing her exercise thing (which is better than I can say for myself in that arena), and of course, C is still with me constantly.

I think some of this lack of inspiration is just the simple down time from writing something that was a huge deal for me to finish, so to speak. A first draft is a first draft, after all, and I am very aware that what I wrote is not a completed novel. But I wrote the story from beginning to end over one hundred pages. To me, that’s a big deal, not the page number, but the story arc, the things that the main character, who felt like one of my own kids, underwent and his growth and transformation.

I think this month especially has been one of considerable downtime, maybe a fallow field. Usually, when I lived in New England, anyway, the inspiration really starts popping like corn as soon as the first hint of autumn is in the air. So I wonder if some of this is just the dog days of a hot, humid August for me.

S’s eleventh birthday is on the 26th. This and Kenny’s advancement to high school and C’s toddlerdom have really had me considering the constant mutability of time. It seems not so long ago that my boys were C’s age, reaching those initial milestones. Time is simultaneously standing still and speeding by for me. I am constantly considering what is important to pay attention to in the long run, as my children are representing three distinct developmental stages.

I am also in the process of applying for positions outside of my home after a considerable amount of time in which I focused on my kids, my recovery after bedrest pregnancy and my manuscript. In some ways it was a necessary luxury, as Kelly mentioned in comments on Brittany’s recent post that must end. I took offense to the term luxury when Kelly used it, but I can see now is that it is a luxury to be able to be home, to be available to see the magic daily that is the kids growing and changing before my very eyes. Maybe some of the lack of inspiration can be attributed to refocusing on the outside world after being very insular for a long time.

While I have been very philosophically minded, I have not felt the urgency to write that has largely defined my life. This is the first time that to be so uninspired feels like a good thing.

Cathy: Writer’s Block in the extreme

How do I get from this:

cropoutlinelastchapfelix

To a complete final chapter?

This page has been staring me in the face for weeks now from the left side of my desk. Behind this page in my mind’s eye, I can see the movie version playing with all the characters I have introduced and their reactions to Felix as he begins his presentation.

I see the principal giving a very-pleased-to-have-this-young-man-in-our-midst introduction. I see his parents settling into the folding chairs proud as parents can be, I see row upon row of classes increasing in grade level to the back of the room, his friends toward the back, his sisters in the front row. I see his difficult sister coming around, and his shy sister, finally without her thumb in her mouth watching him with a grin from ear to ear. I see the school nurse/confidante and the gym teacher who broke up the fight cheering him on with thumbs up on the side lines. I hear Felix’s thoughts as he surveys the room before he begins to speak, moving from nervous exhilaration to knowing he’s had a lot of support all along, if he’d only recognized it, and now that he does, he knows he can do this presentation better than anyone. His solitary nerves disappear and by virtue of his feelings of support from so many he loves and who love him, he realizes anything is possible.

Really, this of all the chapters should be the easiest to write. All the difficulties he’s gone through are over, the good things are securely in place. So how is it I can’t write the words to put him on stage, in front of the audience for the chapter to occur and wrap up this book?

Everything I’ve said above and more I’ve been saying to myself for a very long time. I’ve been saying them through writing much of the rest of the book, through his trials and tribulations, I have had this scene in mind since the first page was written in 2004, maybe even 2003. All I know is the class I was working in at the time and that it was that class that inspired this idea. Sixth graders, gotta love them. Wow, must be graduating high school now. And I’m still hung up in this book!

Please, does anyone know how to put his feet on the steps up to the stage to start this ending? I’m killing myself here between knowing what I want to write, the lack of uninterrupted time and sleep that affect the work, and the sheer actual words that will put him on stage. The movie in my head seems to have come out before the advent talkies.

Thank you for allowing me to indulge in my inner dialogue. I figured if I wrote it down and put it ‘out there’ I might make actual progress — maybe tomorrow.

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