Sunday, September 14, 2008

Funktified Aftermath - The Power of Friendship

Marcia Colette is my confessional. Yes, that's right, although I don't enter a booth and wait for her to slide open any door; I don't say, "Bless me, Marcia, for I have sinned..." Nope, I just send her a rambling email expressing my writing concerns.

The latest rant consisted of my recent writing slump. Somehow a brick wall grew around my muse over night. It was tall and wide, and really really thick because whenever I called to it I got nothing in return. No mumbled inspiration, just plain dead air. So I zipped off an email to my friend, Ms. Colette. It went like this: My writing has slacked off this past week. At this rate I'll never see light of publication. It doesn't help that I'll be out of commission for a few weeks, either. You'd think I'd start cramming in as much writing time as possible, but I'm just not feeling it and that's a problem. My focus isn't there. I can only hope it'll come back. Maybe I need a visualization wall depicting a finished book.

Her reply: You have a right to be as funk-tified as you want.

There was more, but that one line shouted in my face because it gave me this: permission to feel the angst - that it is okay to have the off days. Feel the pain and move on.

As writers we lead a lonely life. It's a solitary profession. We don't show up to the office and sip coffee with co-workers; no one to chat to about how drunk we got over the weekend; no "I might have made a real ass of myself, I think..." before diving into the job routine. It's just our minds, eyes and fingers facing that keyboard or pen and paper. ALL ALONE. So when we feel the walls going up around our muse, hell yeah, hyperventilation rears its ugly head. How are we going to get over it? Who's there to keep us from dragging that WIP over to the trash bin? We stop writing, stop thinking, even stop envisioning our books on the best sellers' list. And the angst evolves into guilt.

Oh how I hate it when that happens, and I'm really good at self-imposed guilt. I spent years in Catholic school back when lay teachers were a novelty. Yes, nothing but hell bent nuns eager to teach shrinking self-esteem.

I'm preaching to the choir, I'm sure. I'll bet that most every writer has felt what I've felt, and I hope that those who've been in this position have someone who will listen to their rants - someone they trust with their entire heart and soul.

Sharing my angst with Marcia lightened my load, and right after I sent her my "Saturday Funk" email, I received an email from WriterU announcing a new class called "No Plotters Allowed". It stated the following: "Are you having problems in your WIP?" That hooked me, and more so as I further read: "Everyone gets stuck at one point or another."

DING! DING! DING! This couldn't have happened at a better time. Ranting to my friend Marcia was like putting a message out to the Universe that said, "HELP! I'm drowning!"

Today I awoke feeling the focus return and I attribute that to two things: 1.) Sharing my angst with a trusted friend, and 2.) giving myself permission to wallow in self-pity, because if you skip the wallowing it's an eternal pity party and you'll stay firmly planted on square one.

I treasure my friendship with Marcia. She pulled me out of the funk on numerous occasions, and I hope I do the same for her. Without her I think I would have tossed my entire collection of manuscripts into that dreaded trash icon on the desktop.

We all need a Marcia in our lives. She's like having a good cry; the next day everything is all shiny again. Everyone should have a confessional buddy. Care to share yours?


Edie said...

Isn't the Internet wonderful? I have a friend halfway around the world who is my confessional buddy. Besides Michelle, I have a lot of online friends who I can look to for motivation. I gotta admit, I work through most of it myself. I'm not much of a ranter, but we all have our down times.

Glad you're feeling more hopeful, Kath. :)

Kath Calarco said...

Yes, Edie, the Internet is a wonderful place. It' been vital in my writing career. Where else can you network with so many writerly minds and all the vast diversity that comes with it?

Anonymous said...

Aw, Kath. :-) You're gonna make ma cry. That was too sweet. And don't think for a second that the shoulder isn't returned because it is.

I think it's vital for writers to have a group of friends they can laugh, cry, and share the excitement with. That's what keeps the solitude at bay or at least to a certain point. Every time I turn around, my world of friends grow. However, it takes special friends like you and Edie, to name a very few, who'll truly open up to. My "confessional" friends, so to speak.

Kath Calarco said...

Marcia, you know Ill always have your back.

As Edie pointed out, the Internet is a wonderful thing. I've yet to find like-minded writers in the community where I live, or anywhere near it. I know they are around - I've seen the chapters listed at RWA, but I've gotten better response, as well as, relationships, with those I've met via the loops or through online classes.

It works for me. :) Who knows? One day we'll all meet in person and it'll be a giant bone-crushing group hug.

Robin said...

I feel so lucky to have met so many wonderful people via the Internet. When I started writing I had no idea the comraderie I'd find while sitting at my computer. It's brought a smile to my face on many days when I really needed it. I'm so glad you've found special friendships, Kath. Happy writing! Feel good!

Kath Calarco said...

Robin, I know what you mean. One of my English Lit. profs poo-poos interfacing through the internet, saying that it's destroying personal socialization. That might be partly true, but for me it has proven to be a wealth of lasting friendships.