The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Monday, July 14, 2008

Workshop notes: Epilogue - Stalling

By Tamara Lee

After completing the Master Fiction Workshop this past spring, I felt rather like an inspired mess. All the information, all the ideas, and all the encouragement, not to mention all the writing I’d done: I was on spin cycle. And if you were ever to meet my old apartment-sized washing machine, you'd know what happens next. Once through the spin cycle, the whole building becomes familiar with the indubitable thud.

The thud I experienced seemed more like a burnout, if I want to be generous with myself. But it was stalling, pure and clean. I knew what would come next. The hard part. The part that meant I needed to live up to all the encouragement; do right by my stories, which had begun to excite me, as well as some of my fellow workshoppers. It seemed as though a step back would be a good idea. But that quickly translated into a stoppage.

Why some writers do this is an often-visited theme amongst our kind. We have all kinds of answers/excuses/theories. It doesn’t really matter why, though, does it? Does knowing the answer prevent us from doing it?

Since the end of April, I have written one story, written some notes for several other projects in other genres, started taking a photography course, immersed myself in growing my freelance business, and otherwise ignored the two pieces that were dubbed ‘almost ready’ by the instructor. That is, one draft away. Instead of merrily getting down to it, I folded like a cheap poly-blend.

But today, out on my newly tidied balcony I revisited those stories; certain I’d been misleading myself into thinking there remained a fair amount of work. Well, I can say that I wasn’t wrong: there is a good deal of work to do. So after two hours of notes and prep-work, I got up and cleaned the house.

Walk into a writer’s clean home and know that that is a writer who’s dated Procrastination, who's folded his laundry, done his dishes, even ironed his shirts and shined the thankless cad's shoes.

Now, if I could just train Procrastination to do windows, we might have something.

4 Comments:

Blogger Chumplet said...

Oh, Tamara, I am feeling exactly the same. I'm using my writers' group challenges to help move me along, but I find more excuses to avoid it.

Fear of failure? Fear of the actual end of a long labour of love? Who knows, but it sure is common.

Tue Jul 15, 11:40:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

I wish my procrastination would do chores! Can we trade? Mine likes to watch TV.

I sometimes fantasize about an artist army- where a haranguing drill sergeant screams you up in the morning to write sonnets. If you don't a get a certain amount of pages written a day you end up on kitchen duty.

Wed Jul 16, 09:54:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger T. Lee said...

Chumplet, I agree. Deadlines and gentle form of guilt do often work, the blasted things.

And Andrew, I know this newfound cleaning procrastination is sort of useful, and I'm trying to train myself to 'work' in my head while I procrastinate with my hands. But when they finally invent that idea/story recording machine that straps to your head and reads thought waves, I'm going to be first in line.

Wed Jul 16, 11:57:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

I love the washing machine thud! That's so true. Procrastination, too. Another word for not inspired, lazy, afraid, bored -- I know that guy well.

Great post -- thanks.

Thu Jul 17, 02:26:00 am GMT-4  

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