[Working on something a bit larger than usual, so in the meantime here’s something I wrote a while back (a little over a year ago). Somewhat autobiographical.]
He sits at his computer, his eyes fixed on the icon of his word processor. He has a story he wants to write, but he can’t seem to finish it. The muse has not descended for him in quite some time. Not that he believes in muses of course. In his mind, you are either creative, or not, which amplifies his feelings of frustration and failure since his writers block must, therefore, be a personal failing.
He’s not writing anything of particular import of course. Merely a silly little tale about a man who hunts ghosts and ends up fighting a dark god. He swears the similarities to Ghostbusters are accidental. Silly as it may be though, it is a story he likes, a story he would read, and he promised himself he would write something that he himself would want to read. He acknowledges Moby Dick’s place as a piece of classic literature, but he didn’t like it and so he’s determined that his book be ‘not that.’ A broad and confusing mission statement to be sure, but none-the-less, he is determined to adhere to it.
The problem he faces is more than a lack of inspiration. He is distracted. By Everything.
His library of games calls to him. Games of all different genres and play styles so that there is always one he feels like playing. Shooters, RPGs, and 4X games all sing their siren songs to him in what he begins to suspect is a deliberate attempt to ruin his life. Minecraft alone has consumed his hours by the dozens in the last six months.
There are other sirens hidden about his work station. The thousand delights of the internet have a song sweet as strawberries. So many different flavors of distraction. Comedic videos by talented writers, forums for discussing everything that interests him, and the porn. Good Christ the porn.
Porn has had the sweetest siren song for him of late. Without a lovely girl who will tolerate him, his satisfaction has been his own responsibility for months. He has become a bit of a connoisseur of fine pornography. He labels it, and categorizes it, and mentally rates it based on its ability to arouse compared to its genre peers.
He is both proud and sickened by this.
He opens the file that is his book and scrolls to the end. He wills himself to press keys, and so the story begins to unfold. Only to be deleted moments later, because honestly, that may have been the worst sentence ever conceived.
He tells his friends and family that he is close. Any day now, he says, his story will be done. He will soon be looking for a publisher.
He will not be looking for a publisher anytime soon. Moreover, he doubts he will find a publish willing to commit to his ridiculous story. Though his doubts are somewhat assuaged by the likes of Stephanie Meyer. Surely if she can be published…but her books at least speak to a certain demographic. Who does his book speak to?
Him, and likely no one else.
His eyes drift from his document, and over to his web browser. He amuses himself for an hour, then he swears he will return to his work.
He doesn’t. His hour long diversion turns into a two hour diversion. Then three hours. Four hours later, he is interrupted from these diversions by a phone call. It’s a friend he plays Pathfinder with every week. On this day of the week actually.
“Hey, are we still on for tonight?” His friend inquires.
“Yeah, I’ll be over in about an hour.” He replies.
“Cool. What have you been up to today?” His friend asks politely.
“Working on my novel.” He lies.
“Cool. How’s it coming?” He would curse his friend for asking but he did open the door to this line of questioning so he curses his own shortsighted conversation tactics instead.
“Very good. I’m getting close to finishing.” He lies again.
“Alright then. I’ll see you in an hour.” His friend hangs up.
Why did he lie, he wonders. His book will remain unfinished for months to come, and it is likely the topic will come up again. How long can a man be close to finishing a novel?
He then realizes that he’s been jumping through mental hoops, planning his responses to conversations that will likely never happen, and wasted a perfectly good half hour.
This is not a rare occurrence.
He spends several more precious minutes of his life staring blankly at his screen again, before finally saying “fuck it” and shutting the computer down.
He collects his things and goes to his weekly game.
Trolls are slain, treasures are plundered, and fair maidens swoon. The game is fun, and for a few hours he doesn’t think about his problems at all. It is a good, but transient, feeling.
Before too long he’s back at home. Staring once again at his computer screen. Though this time there is a difference.
He feels creative.
Tonight’s adventures have heated his creative juices. They are boiling, building pressure, straining for release now. They yearn to spill out through his finger-tips and into the world in .docx format.
There is only one problem. These juices yearn for knights and dragons and high adventure. This would seem most out of place in his current story.
“Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck,” escapes his lips in a low, long sigh. His defeat is just about complete. He has now learned that not only can he not summon the lightning of inspiration, he cannot command the power’s flow when it does descend. So what is he to do?
He opens his word processor, and he begins writing a few pages of a story of a castle under siege.
He already has a hundred distractions; what’s one more?
I can definitely sympathize with the idea of effectively doing nothing because creativity isn’t happening. Actually, thinking about it, a nice shower or bath is probably a good remedy. It creates a distraction-free space to think and ponder and…well, muse.
Also, I am quite amused by the mission statement of “Not Moby Dick.”
In other news: Man, I have so many started stories that have about 4-8 pages written and then just kind of have been left hanging…