I hereby confirm that the crocodile still hasn’t got me and the rampaging rhinoceros hasn’t managed to charge me over the edge of a cliff (see post below) – though I have to say, it has often felt like both have attacked and left me in tatters.
Is the house finished? No, it is not. Am I living in it yet? Yes I am. If you’ve ever built or renovated a house, then the reality of How I Live Now (with apologies to Meg Rosoff) will be self explanatory. Think words like “nightmare”, “living hell”, “frustration”, “irritation” and “regular meltdowns” and you’ll sort of get the picture. It’s not a pretty one.
It is a situation that does less than nothing for creativity - and somewhere, sometime, I did actually have two manuscripts to rewrite and a new idea brewing. Somewhat unsurprisingly, now, when I try to open my brain all I find is grey sludge.
As many of you will know, I don’t believe in writer’s block. I also know many of you do and will therefore heartily disagree with my view. That’s fine – I’m getting pretty darned good at dealing with disagreements and controversy (see paragraph two above…).
However, what I have encountered during this time of abject stress, is The Dry Well.
After two years of intense creativity – designing the interiors for the house, working closely with the architect, and working on two novels, right now I am sapped. As much as I’d really like to, I find the mere thought of being creative utterly exhausting. I keep on top of the house creativity by reviewing the multiple moodbooks I created two years ago. I take endless photos of sunrises – presumably to see if there is a phoenix rising within them. But one thing I can’t do is write (it doesn’t help that the glare in my new study means I can’t see my screen unless I screw up my face like an enraged Tasmanian Devil). The creative well has simply dried up.
Am I worried about it. Surprisingly, I’m not. And it probably goes back to not believing in writer’s block but believing in the rhythms of life. The well is dry because I pretty much burned out after two years of ongoing stress with the build. I can’t possibly begin to expect myself to be creative. And I am certainly not going to beat myself up about it.
The reality is for creativity to flow, it has to be fed.
As Ray Bradbury famously said:
“I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.”Stress is not good food and aside from comfort eating too many carbs and copious amounts of chocolate, I haven’t been feeding myself at all well. But until such time as the various "bastard subcontractors" - as they’ve become known - are out of my space, the stress will not subside. Right now, by way of example, tiles that were wrongly put on are are being chopped off, walls that were badly skimmed are being hacked at and reskimmed, glass which has been “filthified” by greasy paws are being cleaned with vinegar and there is general grinding and banging and muttering going on all around me.
When the dust has settled (and there is a lot of it), and peace once again comes dropping slow, then the well will, I know, begin to slowly fill up again – and then the words too will begin to flow.
It goes without saying that until that time, blog posts, along with my writing, will continue to be erratic at best.