My writing and I have reached a stalemate. I have a thousand stories running through my head, but I can’t make a move. I’m locked into the throes of the writing world, but I’m starting to feel like I’m in handcuffs.
It isn’t writer’s block, quite the contrary. I get a new idea when the breeze smells right, or when I hear a song that makes me tingle in the deep places where I think I truly understand something in the world for a minute. However, I don’t want to write it, because it’s become painful for me. I feel kind of like I’m in love with someone I can’t be with. We are two figures sitting across a chess board, looking into one another’s eyes, unable to move.
Needless to say, my queries aren’t going well. I’ve gotten too many polite rejections lately. “Mrs. Hollifield, you have an interesting project, BUT.” “Dear Writer, please excuse this form letter.” “Mrs. Hollifield, you’re writing shows promise, HOWEVER,…” I feel like I’m getting dumped over and over again, yet I keep signing up for new dating websites and taking blind dates. Do I have any other choice?
I suppose I could leave the game, pitch a fit because I just don’t see the correct attack path yet. I suppose I could knock the pieces off the board, with an impressible strength for a girl of my stature before muttering something charming , and walking away with the board tucked safely under my arm like I’ve just showed everybody. I can’t though…I can’t walk away. I’m hooked. I’m eager, but still, I don’t know how to move. I can’t help being in love with those pages that hold me hostage.
I read articles about how immobile the literary world is right now, which doesn’t exactly inspire me. I hear things about how it’s all who you know now. I’m going to have to pay big bucks to go to prestigious writer’s conferences, and enter contest after contest. I’m going to have to hear yet hundreds of more rejections, these articles say. I read pages and pages of this until my eyes are blood-shot and I no longer crave anything except cheap wine with a screw-off top. I think if I take up alcoholism it will be with Boone’s Farm strawberry, available at any gas station…
Within a few days, in the typical quick-whimmed fashion I do, I had signed up for yoga, ballet, and hip-hop classes. I took solace in my cheerleader/dancer background, made some new fitness goals, and decided to camp out there until I could process reality again. I didn’t pressure myself to partake in National Novel Writing Month…it just wasn’t my time. I had to retreat and look at my strategies again, by not thinking about it at all. This turned out to be a rather good thing…I took a little sabbatical from my chess game, finding my confidence elsewhere, but I didn’t pack up the board. I just needed to feel capable at something again, while I regrouped. It was excellent therapy, and I don’t plan on stopping.
So, I feel like I can breathe again, and I have a plan of action. I’m going to suck it up, enter those prose contests, lick some boots at the writer’s conferences, and keep sending queries. I may have even decided against alcoholism. I’m also going to finish up the Creative Writing program through a school that focuses on preparing writers for publication. I think I can make it this time, since the math and science classes (that ensure inserting a pencil in my eye for enjoyment) are behind me. Why not? The time will pass me by anyway. Maybe somewhere in this battle is the way to checkmate. And who am I kidding? I always get my opponent in check…it’s just a matter of when and how. But, as always, though I look still, I am coming. I am finding checkmate even right now.