Jay Lake: Writer

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[Cancer, Process]

[cancer|process] Writer’s block, or energy block?

I am experiencing something much akin to writer’s block these days. Which is really ticking me off.

Longtime readers will be familiar with the fact that I almost never experience writer’s block. I can be held up for a day or so on a difficult point in a story. I can be distracted by an overwhelming emotional or life experience. But I’ve never had that feeling of sitting down, staring at the screen, and sweating for the words to come. If a piece is stalled, I just work on something else. Words have always flowed like water for me. It’s been one of my gifts as a writer, perhaps one of my core gifts.

What I am going through now isn’t writer’s block in the stare-at-the-screen sense, not precisely. The words are in there. I have a novel to revise, a novel to write, a Sekrit Projekt to complete, a novella to revise, random short story ideas on almost a daily basis. They bubble, to the point now of frustrating me, a lot.

What I don’t have is energy.

Up until about the beginning of April, I was writing at a pretty good clip, even for chemotherapy. But since I completed the first draft of “The Stars Do Not Lie”, I’ve been having a hell of a time finding focus and energy to work on more. I’ve slipped in a little bit of revision on older pieces that had been languishing, and done some Writing Related Program Activities around getting stories out to market, answering interviews and whatnot. All of that is a kind of short-burst productivity I can do without extended periods of deep focus.

At this point in my chemotherapy cycle, by the time I’m done with the Day Jobbe, I’m pretty much done with the day. I’ve lost the 3-5 pm time slot I was using to write in. My sleep needs have piled up more with the accumulating fatigue, so I’ve lost the 3-5 am time slot I was also sometimes using. Basically, the world is closing in, and taking my time with it. That I lost three of my ‘free’ weekends in a row through March and April to various medical issues in my family was no help either.

My current plan is to service my deadline projects in the upcoming weekend time, and try to hammer out at least a little daytime writing. I can do a lot by sheer force of will. But I cannot do everything. Meanwhile, this damned block has got me for the first time since I’ve become a pro.

This might be the thing that pisses me off the most about chemo. That cancer and the drugs have stolen my creative time and space away from me.

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