Clogged Pipes

A Writer’s Constipation

My doctor says I need to lose weight, eat better, and stop smoking, so I’m doing all three at the same time. I started over the weekend and have already lost a pound and a half. Of course, I’m in a shit mood because I’ve quit smoking, but that’s to be expected. It usually lasts about a week and a half, then I start getting nicer.

It felt/feels like I was headed for a stroke, because I certainly was. My health has been pretty horrible. My blood pressure has been high. I can’t walk more than a few yards before needing to rest. I’m always out of breath, tired, sore, dizzy…I feel death knocking for me if I don’t change right fucking now. It’s been long overdue. I’m settled in the new house now, so it’s time.

So here it goes again. Back on the patch. The fridge is filled with fresh foods, and I’m counting calories all over again. The new primary care doc also warned me how challenging it’s going to be for me to take the weight off because of all the lovely medications I’m on, but I still have to try. I’ve been parking my car a little farther away to get a few more steps in a day, but it’s very little at a time for now.

All I know is that I’m going to feel starved again in order to see any progress. That’s how it was before when I took off 30 pounds a couple years ago, but I was a couple pounds lighter than I am right now. This starving feeling brings out my depression tenfold, so I have to watch myself—not do anything that I know will put me in a position that’s going to upset me or stress me out. Hopefully, things will look up next week.  

On the writing front, if someone knows of a writer’s laxative that’s easy to swallow, please let me in on it, because lately, the words haven’t been flowing out of me like I wish they would. I don’t know what’s going on. I can normally sit down to write a blog post without much of a plan. My fingers usually do a little dance and guide me into saying something somewhat meaningful. Not so these days. I’ve been struggling to get anything that makes sense onto the screen.

Not long ago, I bought a membership on Medium. Shortly thereafter, I wrote an article about my mom and dementia entitled, There’s Always a Bridge. I was pretty happy with it, and it was even chosen to be distributed in a couple of subjects (Disability and Family), but since then, I’ve been feeling like shit about my writing.

I’ve been working on a few different things simultaneously: doing a last pass on the second edition (re-edit) of my book, Shrapnel in the San Fernando Valley. I have three more chapters to go on that. Then I’ve got to hire someone who knows how to work the headers and footers properly in MS Word because I can’t figure them out! I was able to at one time, but now they’re all fucked up and I can’t fix them.

I’ve also been working on a new book about gender identity—an autobiographical thing, and from that piece is coming a short fiction story about walking a paid picket line for Larry Flynt that is based on a true story.

Lastly, I’m trying to rewrite an older short story to bring it “up to par.” So far, the only thing that’s going well are the two books. The short stories are just not happening. They just suck. I feel constipated and I’m falling asleep while I’m working on them. Not a good sign, but I am probably not getting enough sleep.

Furthermore, I have tried several times to write another article for Medium about anything remotely interesting, and I just can’t. I’ve been crippled by self-doubt and insecurities. I think a lot of it has to do with a writer’s site I’ve belonged to for the past couple of years where I’m not exactly well-liked by some of the people there. But that is not the reason I can’t get my head together. I’m not that caught up in being liked there. It’s because I feel lost and insignificant in a sea of so many other writers, better writers, that are all trying to do the same thing. It’s not very encouraging and at times, it makes me want to give up. My membership there just lapsed, and I’ve decided not to renew it.

There are also many Medium publications to submit to and the potential for further rejection is insurmountable, as I’ve been shopping my short stories around to dozens of other publications over the last couple of years only to be rejected by every single one of them. Medium might just be another “medium” to rack up more rejection and I’m not sure my ego wants that right now.

What comes much easier to me and makes me happier is making art. I started a new watercolor and it all just rolls off me like second nature. I don’t care what anyone would say or think about it. I really don’t care. I’m not doing it to make money, or score brownie points, or for the need to promote something else. It’s just part of my life and people can either share in that experience with me, or they can take a seat-less bike ride up sand-pound road. (That’s another way of saying they can go pound sand.)

New Watercolor (Work in Progress)

If only I took this same approach to writing, wouldn’t that be something? But I don’t. I’m all wrapped up in rules, writing “like a writer,” and promoting the book, which constantly feels dire. I’m also trying too hard to be a “good” writer, and I still don’t even know what that means. Apparently, it means not to use any cliché (and half the time I don’t know that I’m using it), and not to use the word “was” too much, taking a passive voice, or not a passive voice (I’m not sure which it is anymore), and not to use “like,” like when making metaphors. Soon, I pay so much attention to my words that I become stifled and frozen, too nervous to start paragraph one.

I should point out that the writer’s site I belonged to is a critique site, for the most part. It’s not a big kumbaya support group. You won’t exactly find much empathy there when you’re feeling like you want to quit because you feel like you suck, especially if you’re predominately self-taught, and someone who writes memoirs. I’ve since mentioned that I’ve written nothing else but fiction, but it doesn’t matter. And it doesn’t matter that some of my favorite writers never had more than a high school diploma. A piece of paper doesn’t educate anyone. But some people are judgy fuckers. Not all of them are that way, but quite a few can be. Fiction is more respected than nonfiction.

I guess what I’m saying is that the writer’s site might have eroded my self-esteem—the little I had to begin with. I feel like a tiny piece of insignificant lint in a giant industrial lint trap among a hot, non-air-conditioned laundromat in the middle of the desert.

I originally had the idea to just start doubling up my regular old blog posts to Medium, but now I realize they are not profound enough, or good enough, nor are they relatable enough. Most of all, they need to have a point and resolution and I never write that way. When I write anything, they don’t usually resolve, but I do that on purpose. I don’t like happy endings. To me, that is a cliché. I don’t like reading stories like that, so why would I write something like that?

At the end of the day, I should probably write something. I just don’t know what, but at least I’ve written this.

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