About Writers

Why Don’t I Just Write, or, What Is That Character Up To Now?

I thought I would have more time to write after I left my day job. I’m not writing that much. I’ve had a few non-fiction pieces appear in local journals. I sent my first novel to a publisher, and I’m waiting to hear. I’m working on three short stories, with one planned for submission to a literary journal at a local college. I will read at two upcoming writers’ group meetings, and I’ve been asked to participate on a writers’ panel in March. But I can’t think of a story line for another novel. I haven’t been writing.

I tell myself I am busy. The farm chores occupy a good part of every day. I volunteer my time at four not-for-profits. I’ve been elected to the board of directors of one of them. Then there’s the garden work and the trout fishing and the horse training in their seasons. There are some inside house painting projects on tap. The days are full. But that’s just an excuse.

When I should be writing I am surfing the web and listening to YouTube videos of Janice Joplin and of the Ronettes. So, why don’t I just sit down and write?

I’ve been purging old work files and I found the interest and skill inventories and psychological assessments I took before being hired to my last job. I don’t remember reading this stuff, until now.

Wow. Now I know why none of the consulting psychologists would meet with me alone. It was a small firm, and the whole company was in the room for my sanitized, in person briefing on the results. The written report describes a not-quite-so-smart and a little bit crazy Sheldon Cooper.

But let’s move to the part about writing. The assessments determined that I had both an interest in and the capacity to be a writer. That was just the start. There’s more.

I want other people to like me, but it doesn’t much matter to me if they don’t. I won’t change my thinking, or what I’m doing, to please others.

I don’t start stuff. I’m satisfied with watching events develop around me, and only then formulating a response. I’m reactive, not assertive.

I’m satisfied with my standing in society. I don’t need to be out front. I’m the funny looking guy at the edge of the crowd. I don’t like to be called out by name on a trout stream or on the street. I have enough friends and a small and appreciative readership, and I don’t have a driving need to add to those groups.

I’m okay with my economic status. More money is not a motivator. I don’t need to be rich. I don’t expect to make any real money as a writer, and that’s okay.

I like to make things. At the end of the week I like to point to something tangible and say, “I made that.” It’s easier to do that with a new horse shed or a line of pasture fence than it is with a story.

The report suggests that I might have been a forester or a farmer. Horses are honest and direct, without the duplicity of the corporate office. Why didn’t I have this report forty years ago? I worked in an office because I could do the work and because I needed an income. I might have been happier at something else, away from people.

Am I a product of nature or nurture? There have been other guys like me in my family, so maybe it’s in the genes. But then there were calamities early in my life, and I have developed defenses. That one’s a toss up.

I’m looking in a mirror with the help of the psychologists’ report. It’s an odd reflection, but not one I need to change. It’s a powerful thing to know myself. It’s a powerful thing to know where I’ve been, and to know what I’ve come to, and to know that it’s okay. Maybe it’s okay that I’m not writing anymore.

I bought a book a few years ago that was supposed to help me write about characters. The book is a thinly disguised review of the sixteen Meyers-Briggs personality types. I dug out the book to see what it had to say about me. The book was generally accurate, I would say.

Then I started reading about some of those other Meyers-Briggs types, and looking at how they might interact with other people, older or younger, of the same or opposite gender, same or different personality types. What is it with those darn “E”s anyway?

Okay, now I have an idea. Let’s get that next story started.

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14 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Just Write, or, What Is That Character Up To Now?

  1. GD Deckard says:

    There is nothing wrong with satisfaction. Even for an INTP. Writing is a solitary approach to one’s intuition about thoughts that can trigger new perceptions. It’s these discoveries that make writing exciting.
    🙂 Have fun with your idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mimispeike says:

    When I can’t get myself to write (or rewrite) it’s because I’m afraid. Afraid to see what else needs work, afraid that I can’t solve complicated problems that I’ve created for myself, afraid of creating more problems (my best talent) . . . chickenshit scaredy-cat head-in-the-sand fearful. So I go back to reading, until a new possibility grabs me, and I have to see what I can do with it.

    My solution for any failure of confidence: read.

    And I can tell myself (and everyone) that I’m making progress, doing research.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. GD Deckard says:

    Just discovered why I do write!
    A line I once wrote -I won’t bore you with it- was made into a graphic & posted on Pinterest. I came across this jolt yesterday while Googling images of myself because a newly discovered family member on Ancestry.com had requested one. Three things stand out to me about that.
    1) I enjoyed seeing images of myself on Google Images.
    2) I was thrilled to see something I wrote made into a memorable graphic.
    3) I make no living from writing.
    = The inescapable conclusion?
    Being a writer is my identity, not my employment.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Perry Palin says:

    GD, Carl, Mimi,

    Thanks much for your comments.

    I was surprised to read a post by a friend, a musician and writer, who said he loved performing music, but that “(w)riting is a form of mental wrestling. Stops and starts. Revising. Questioning. The only time you feel good about it is when it’s finished, and think it’s good.” I like the revising and questioning. If I didn‘t, I would have to stop.

    We write in different ways and for different reasons. In spite of expert writerly advice, I live in the story I’m working on. I construct scenes while doing farm chores; I develop plot lines while walking to the mailbox; I dream dialogue at night. I enjoy every part of this immersion into the story.

    This immersion has been an escape from less rewarding events or aspects of real life. I still enjoy the immersion, but now I am pretty much free of those “less rewarding events or aspects.” I am not as compelled to write as I was in the past. But I do it for fun.

    Liked by 4 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      Good point, Perry, about learning from songwriters. A songwriter friend, Chris Gabriel, once told me,
      “The book needs expanded there’s so much great stuff in there it needs to slow its roll and steep a little, meaning take longer to explain things and have a nice build up. Steep a little is something for song writing but works the same – add the chorus before the new lyric line is presented.

      I’m still thinking that’s great advice and I’m still learning how to apply it.

      Like

  5. mimispeike says:

    . . . it needs to slow its roll and steep a little, meaning take longer to explain things and have a nice build up. Steep a little is something for song writing but works the same – add the chorus before the new lyric line is presented.

    That’s the way I think about my process: fast and slow / loud and soft / too much this, time for some that. It’s my substitution for something really happening in the lacksidasical plot.

    Add the chorus before . . . I really love that advice, and his way of putting it. I’m going to remember that. I think Sly will use that somewhere. You may tell Chris Gabriel to look for his name to pop up in my footnotes. (If he doesn’t mind. Otherwise it will be, a friend of a friend who doesn’t care to be memorialized for the ages.)

    Liked by 3 people

    • GD Deckard says:

      I’m sure Chris would be delighted to have you mention him, Mimi. I mentioned him in the front dedication page of The Phoenix Diary because his advice was always valuable and often communicated in unique ways. He once had me find, purchase & listen to an old rock album just to make a particular point. An interesting person, he writes songs and works for a company that books him gigs to play in back-up bands for rock groups. Sometimes they fly him in a company plane, sometimes he flies the company plane. He disappears on motorbike road trips to clear his head. I found his advice worth listening to because his perspective is one I never have.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Well, I like your choice of You Tube videos, Perry, so I can understand why you’re doing less writing. And if you’re able to immerse yourself in other activities, get that sense of ‘flow’ where we lose track of time and are completely in the moment, that explains it too. I remain conscious of time passing too quickly and too many ideas to get down.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. mimispeike says:

    Another thing that gets me back to writing is the conversations I have with my husband. Discussing a topic, yesterday it was religious relics, generally gets me going with a new idea or a new perspective.

    A quick poll: In my fake visitation of the Virgin Mary, I wonder if I could/should have my lady witness, who had given up a child for adoption when she was very young and has thought about the babe ever since, pretend to discuss motherhood with the Virgin, and be given a piece of what she says is from the swaddling of the Christ child, with assorted stains on it, to comfort her.

    Which would be the relic draw for a shrine (the goal of the scam is to bring religious tourism to a poor, isolated kingdom), The Shrine of the Sacred Poopie. Many sites display a finger bone, some hair, a shroud, this is really unique. Holy crap! (Wow! Is that perchance where the phrase originated?)

    My husband says this, of all my nonsense, finally goes too far. He hates the idea. What about you?

    Okay, it’s the Shrine of the Sacred Swaddling, known informally as the Shrine of the Holy Poopie.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. mimispeike says:

    I am now researching the various forms of contact with the Virgin Mary, from apparition to private revelation to interior locution to …. well, there are many forms of interaction, as laid out by the church. On top of the historical formulas accepted by the church, there are four criteria for judging the events for credibility. Great, great stuff! This is rich territory for humor.

    Liked by 1 person

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