Saturday, November 20, 2010

Writing about Worry

Today on my Facebook page I mentioned that I was having trouble working on my new novel because there were too many other worries getting in the way.

One of my friends suggested that I write about worry and see if that got me past my writer's block.

I am not sure that what I have is writer's block, so I didn't take him up on the suggestion at the time. What I have is an inability to keep my mind in my book.

Today, I was determined to keep plugging away at my manuscript until the story came alive in my head and characters started to cooperate. The characters simply are not going with what I had in mind for them. I need to hear their voices, see what they are feeling. Instead, like me, they are just going through the motions of life.

It is late here in Kentucky. I only managed to hammer out about 800 words today. It is time to try something different. So here are my worries.

The number one worry no amount of writing will make less difficult. A very dear friend is in the final stages of cancer. Most of the time he is heavily drugged. In the moments when he is awake, he may or may not know who I am. I worry about him, his family, our mutual friends and colleagues. I agonize with him, and for him. Sometimes I just stand at his bedside and worry about the gaping hole his passing is going to leave in my life...the hole it is already making in my life.

I worry that I am not spending enough time with my own family. My mother is pushing eighty and recovering from knee surgery. I took a few days off when she most needed help, but I am sure she could do with more of my time. I worry that the grandchildren are growing up too fast. My daughter is so busy taking care of them that she doesn't take enough care of herself. Then there is my spouse, who is doing a lot of my work around the house so I can go out and promote my current book.

Yes, family is a huge worry. My guilt works overtime on that one. There aren't enough hours in the day to do the things I need to do at home. I don't mean chores. Housework is never really done. I am missing some of the important stuff, the smiles and hugs, the special family moments that I can't ever get back.

On the rare second when the bundle of worry about the people I love is not occupying my mind, I worry about the painfully slow rate at which this book is coming together. I slog through the middle and wonder if the first draft will ever get done. Then I start thinking that it will not be any good, and worry about that.

I don't know if saying any of this is going to help me get past the stuff that has my brain tied in knots. I can't do anything about most of it except worry.

I am giving it up for tonight or this morning (it is past midnight here). I'm going to bed. Perhaps, when it is daylight again, I will find that writing about all the stuff that drives me to distraction has made it somehow less difficult. Now that I have put it into words on this electronic page, just maybe, I can turn this page and be back in my work instead of just worrying about finishing it.

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