I was going to talk today about how to choose your point of view–first, second, third, limited, omniscient–but as it happens, the Blindside attacked and it therefore seems like an appropriate time to talk about it. I’ll work on the point of view post for next time.
Everybody knows what a Blindside is. It’s when you aren’t looking and suddenly a Mac truck comes out of nowhere and plows you into the ground. You can’t prepare for it because you never see it coming (that last bit isn’t entirely true, but I’ll get to that). Blindsides happen. More often than we’d like. They throw us for a loop, off our game, out of our heads, and off our rockers (to milk a host of cliches). They tend to show up at the worst possible moment, though to be honest, all the moments seem to be the worst possible, so really, it’s not all that hard for Blindsides to choose a good crap moment to hit you.
The problem is, no matter the Blindside, the writing must still happen. The deadlines still loom. Editors are frequently sympathetic and can definitely be generous and kind and they will work with you. But they are limited to how much they can do, depending on the time crunch. On top of that, you can’t always plan for how much time it takes to deal with a Blindside. Maybe it’s just a few weeks. Other times it could be months or a year or more. Here are some for instances that I had to deal with: back surgery, back surgery, (yeah two) neck surgery, pregnancy with complications–oh, and then the whole raising the baby business, dog surgeries, parental near death experiences, and so on and so forth. Somehow these seem to take time out of my life. Imagine that.
And if it was only the time, it would be more easily survivable (or so I claim, without basis in real knowledge, since it never comes with just the time). But what happens is that the Blindside is also a psychic attack. It’s mentally exhausting and that is the hardest to recover from. Your creativity frequently evaporates. You aren’t sleeping and you aren’t focusing on the writing. Worse, if you need the money from your writing, you start panicking, making the entire experience even worse.
I’d like to give you a solution to the Blindside. Some way of properly dealing with it. But the truth is, I don’t have the answer. Each time I’ve gotten through, with the help of friends, family, chocolate, alcohol, and various other tools of the trade, but the fact is, to borrow and twist Tolstoy’s words into a pretzel, unhappy writers are unhappy in their own peculiar ways. Which is to say, every writer’s life is different and every Blindside is different. Worse, even if you dealt with it one way the first time, the next time you have to deal with it a new way. Circumstances change.
I think the point of this, aside from a general misery loves company sort of ending, is simply that one of the only real ways to deal with it is to reach out to other writers. Because even though our Blindsides vary, as do our lives and circumstances, we completely and totally comprehend the struggle. It is the one significant thing you can do to help yourself. You can talk. You can get empathy. You can share the burden of the struggle that frankly, only writers can truly understand. It isn’t that friends and family aren’t sympathetic and empathetic, but they don’t know what it means when the words dry up, when you hit the wall, when you lose inspiration, when . . . Oh, as many whens as there are Blindsides. So from me to you, I’ve been Blindsided. It sucks. I wrote nothing today. I can’t even wrap my head around the words. I’ll be better tomorrow. I think. And by the time this posts, I’ll have a plan (I’m writing this January 23rd). All the same, all I can say is Marco! and hope the writers out there answer with a Polo!