Just a Bad Day . . .

Last week, for no reason I can pin down, my usual positive feelings about life slipped away and the possibility of falling into a prolonged funk peered in my direction. Fortunately, the next morning I felt restored to relative normalcy.
During those few hours everything seemed meaningless. The cycles of shopping, cooking, dishes; feeding and walking the dogs, my writing and my attempts to promote it–all my self-perpetuating gestures towards accomplishment—rang as hollow as an empty cistern.
It was a relief the next morning when I woke up and once more appreciated having something to do, Washing the dishes, making breakfast, writing this blog, they all showed up like old friends.
However my misgivings about the value of writing may run deeper.
Since retiring, I have had an opportunity to spend more time writing. And I’ve discovered that having open days is quite different from snatching a few hours before leaving the house for work. It seems that having unlimited time can dilute the flow of creative energy available for writing, as if I am trying to thin out a given quantity of juice to fill a larger container.
Yet my relatively new experiment in posting a weekly blog post—to about 20 of you—has been engaging and sometimes fun.
My impulse to write a new novel seems to express a wish to meet the future half way. But so far, as I write my notes, the future has not yet given its stamp of approval.
My recently published third book, “Falling on the Bright Side,” is now in the hands of about 50 (potential) readers. (But I suspect that you can lead a reader to a book but you can’t make them read).
I remain in the dark about the relevance of Falling to the world in which my friends and associates live. Will the people with whom I have had the pleasure of sharing experiences during the past 20 years, and on whom I have modeled several characters in Falling—people with disabilities and their families and caregivers–enjoy reading a book that invokes the difficulties which they are obliged to live? Perhaps my fictional depiction of disability and its related situations will strike too close to painful realities that they cannot escape—such as having to end your days in a nursing home.
Perhaps I can learn from “Falling on the Bright Side” if I am willing to look more closely at the feeling of hopelessness that washed through me last week. Instead: it is so easy–when a rogue wave rides across the placid surface of the ocean–to breathe a sigh of relief as soon as the gentle face of the sea returns.
This Saturday I have the first of two scheduled book readings—both at local Albuquerque bookstores. I wonder who will come, and what they will think about my book. Will anyone—perhaps someone on a spiritual path–find in Larry’s journey a story that resonates with their own? Will a story of healing and redemption speak for the possibility of hope for anyone worrying about their own personal narrative arc? Will my book’s depiction of the reality of nursing homes—which are often the only option for families who are not wealthy—help bring awareness of alternatives a baby-step closer?
Meanwhile “Falling” has fallen outside my control. Somehow that isn’t hard to accept. After all, writing a novel is not so different than telling a joke at a party. If it falls flat, you won’t tell that one again. More important is that if the desire to keep exploring our own life dissolves, we may not so easily find another one to ignore.

2 comments to “Just a Bad Day . . .”
  1. Man, as a writer I feel your pain! Famous writers have explained the torture well: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand,” said George Orwell. After 20 years of writing I dedicated a whole blog on the subject – http://babyboomerbliss.net/happiness-as-a-writer/ – because staying happy as a writer is anything but easy. As I wrote, the best advice I have for other writers is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. In other words, don’t make your whole world about writing, publishing, how many books you sell, or even how many people read your books or you will go completely bonkers. Have a well-balanced life that includes time for your spirituality, your loved ones, and other interests. Hope your book signings go well – but even if they don’t (and I know from experience, they don’t always turn out the way we expect and hope), remember, sometimes you just have to write for the pure joy of expressing yourself. Writing is indeed a rocky ride. I love your comment in your blog: “It is so easy–when a rogue wave rides across the placid surface of the ocean–to breathe a sigh of relief as soon as the gentle face of the sea returns.” So beautifully said. Go with that! Thanks for the refreshingly honest blog that we can all relate to – we all have those bad days!

  2. Hi Julie,
    I appreciate your comments and read with interest your earlier blog post on the theme of writing–to which you provided a link here. I don’t know that I have many demons, and perhaps that’s why my recent writing has tended to move toward non-fiction, where the boundaries of a theme provides both inspiration and limitation. Reading George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, I can readily envision how torturous it must have been to write about the descent of the world around him into barbarism. Franz Kafka also, in this decades-early premonitions of the haulocaust, was famously pushing against the grain in order to write. As he put it, “The only thing harder than writing is not writing.” Kafka, in one of his brief, enigmatic snapshots (which I remember better than his novels), said about Don Quixote, something like: Sancho Panza sent the Don out to combat his, Sancho’s, demons, and thereby, following him, had edifying diversions to the end of his days. An interesting reversal of the relationship usually ascribed to Sancho on the donkey and Quixote on his steed. I sometimes feel that way about my fiction–that I am sending out one of my unresolved personality quirks to represent me in a made up world.

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