Take time to deliberate, but when the time for action has arrived, stop thinking and go in.
- Napoleon

Thursday, November 29, 2007

When Feeling Bad is Good

You know how sometimes you're going along, feeling good about yourself like everything in your world is just right, and you run into a gas bubble that steals your confidence right out from under you? That's a burp in your confidence. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Anyway, I hit one today. Out of the blue, it smacked me upside the head and knocked me to my knees. Like a stray bubble of methane in the ocean, it sucked the breathe right out of me and threatened to drag me under.

Suddenly, I was a hack. Everything I ever wrote or would ever write was utter crap. My characters were flat and lifeless; my prose stilted and trite; my descriptions lackluster and, dare I say it? Boring.

I was floundering fast.

When these bubbles hit me, I can't do anything right. I'm a good cook, but for some reason I couldn't roast a friggin' chicken tonight to save myself. I'm a pretty good poker player, but I lost every hand I friggin' played. I even felt like a homeschooling failure, whose only child would be consigned to the fryer at MickeyD's. For the past few hours I've felt like a complete waste.

After a dinner of not-too-bad roast chicken (that took two and a half-hours to cook :grumble:), I wandered out to the smoking foyer to freeze my buns off and inhale some nicotine inspiration. That's when it hit me. I felt totally futile and useless. I felt like an incompetent. I felt like the lowest rung on the evolutionary ladder.

In essence, I felt like my MC at the beginning of Blink - when she gets canned from her job because she's been proclaimed 'incompetent' by the powers that be.

Now, even though I felt like doo-doo, I'm still smart enough to know none of my horrible feelings about myself had any basis in fact. I'm also smart enough to know when to grab hold of an emotional moment and use it to make my writing better. I took all that negativity and thrust it upon my dear Mary. She now feels like crap, and I am feeling much better. In fact, my book is feeling much better, too - mainly because Mary needs to feel like pondscum at the beginning of the book. If she felt good at the beginning, the rest of the book wouldn't have the whole enlightenment experience for her. (She'll thank me for it someday, trust me.)

I sat down and reworked the entire first chapter. That chapter's been a bugger since I first wrote it. (It wasn't the first first chapter I wrote for Blink. The original first chapter is now Chapter 2. It works better there anyway.) Now I think I finally hit it on the head. Mary wakes up feeling futile, she goes to work feeling confused and when she gets there, they fire her and tell her she's incompetent. The whole experience for her sucks royally. It has to. It's great!

Anyhoo, I'm back on track - although I still think I need to stay away from my WIP until this shitty feeling is gone completely. (Otherwise I could end up deleting something important or writing something crappy when Jordan's life isn't crappy - irritating and frustrating maybe, but not crappy.)

Have you ever had one of those moments? How long do yours last? Mine used to last for days or weeks (and that one unfortunate span of months when I couldn't write anything I didn't think was junk), but now I get over them much faster. I think part of it is forcing myself to get over it, and get back to work. How do you get over yours?

1 comment:

Janimé said...

"I felt totally futile and useless"

This happens to me on a fairly regular basis. For a long time, it seemed to come on with no rhyme or reason.

Eventually, I figured out that one significant contributor was my sleep level. I'm far more likely to fall into the brink after I've been sleep deprived for a few days - even if only a little deprived.

So now when it happens, my first line of defense is to tell myself to get some good sleep. And I do my best to ignore the negative feelings until that happens.

Usually the feelings are very much reduced after a good night's sleep.

Another significant contributor is the scope of my to-do list. If I try to take in every thing that needs doing at a detailed level, I get to feeling overwhelmed, and then depressed.

In those cases, if I can take a step back and get back on track with breaking things down into managable chunks, the negative feelings will eventually fade.

Lots of hugs from family members works pretty good too :-)