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Living Writing
One Reason Why Your Output Can Crash
© 2013 James LaFond
NOV/5/13
Last week my benefactor gave me a week off to wrap-up some writing projects. I do about a dozen short pieces a week. This is not taxing, rather seems to provide a vent for ideas that are not compatible with my current major project. For instance, when I am working on a major fiction project you will notice a lot of non-fiction articles. When I am working on a non-fiction project you will notice a lot of fiction serials.
I have sometimes boasted of my word output, being so thrilled with real professional-level productivity after 30 years trying to knock out a chapter a month, falling asleep on the desk, and having a slew of fatigue-generated typos to clean up. This time last week I was on fire, three days into my vacation. I wrote a novelette, posted a dozen articles, sent off a chapter for the non-fiction book I am ghostwriting for actual money. In short I was feeling like a real writer. I went out with my youngest son to celebrate his 4.0 and my 40,000 words. I woke up the next morning and wrote—nothing.
My mind was dry. I had plenty of ideas, an army of characters, stacks of notes, 346 outlined articles and 13 outlined projects in the works. Where the hell was the one-finger key-board jockey that tapped out 40,000 words in four days?
The slug just did not feel like writing!
I was not even tired.
What had happened?
Was this the beginning of the end?
The slug wrote one short cruddy oral history piece on Saturday.
Nothing on Sunday, and that’s God’s Day when a heretic like I should be enjoying my apostasy in a creative way.
“Who the hell hired this guy?”
“Somebody needs to kick his ass—but you are sitting on it watching idiots watch football!”
Monday is always a good day for me, after a weekend of training. I’m good for self-help meathead literature until noon. I managed to get out a serial which took two hours per page and then spent six hours plowing through three brief ‘this is how you stab people’ articles.
What had happened to me?
I headed to work last night, wondering if I should ask about a fulltime job, maybe import a Filipino wife and start repopulating the ghetto, maybe even start boxing again and just get it over with!
I nodded off on the way to work, too tired to even read my next review piece on the bus. I walked by the cop that harassed me this time two years ago almost hoping he’d violate my death-of-mind so that I would have the opportunity to write ‘Officer Manfriendly #2.’
Nothing.
An hour later I was breaking down four tons of ill-packed freight that had almost broken itself down on the truck ride from New England when the young stoner who provided the inspiration for Buzz Bunny walked by, “How’s your old ass doin’? Get hit in the head anymore? You graduating from applesauce to baby food yet old man? Wait, wait—what town is this? How many fingers am I holding up?”
Then the kid that writes comics came by and asked me how many lead characters I snuffed last week. Before I could even answer the big long-haired guy who had wiggled out his teeth instead of brushing them was mumbling, “Whaz up Yim.”
Next the supervisor was walking by shaking his head about the stoner and complaining about the outcome of last night’s football game. His backup was grinning at me, “Your boy fucked you. He gave himself an easy week and then ordered all of this shit for you to load up before stamps hit. Welcome back!”
Before midnight I had outlined five articles on the back of my drink receipt and could not wait to get home to write them. At three in the morning the stoner kid started talking MMA with me and the backup stopped at the end of the aisle and glared at the young slacker, making of himself a nice posture study for various phases of adult impatience with procrastinating youth, while the inspiration for my nefarious rabbit character groused, “I’ll be right there big man—wouldn’t want you bustin’ a clogged artery liftin’ that shit up your own old-ass self.”
At about that time I realized that life had just reminded me that I’m a conduit, not a creator, just a filter with a curious frame of mind.
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