Scott D. Parker
For any writer out there who has completed a story, you know the thrill of typing that last period on the last sentence of the last page of a story. It's pretty darn exciting. For any writer who has ever finished a novel, the feeling is even more exhilarating. The day I completed my first book, I was on cloud nine. I felt as if I was on the tallest mountain on earth. I was grinning ear-to-ear and pretty much told everyone within shouting distance that I, Scott Parker, had actually completed a novel. Too bad I didn't speak Spanish or the lawn guys outside my office building would have been told about my awesome book.
The same is true when you see something you’ve written in published form, be it electronic or paper. Last year, when my story landed within the electronic walls of Beat to a Pulp, I again visited cloud nine. It was a great week here at the Parker household since that was also the same week my wife was one of the artists featured on the HGTV program “That’s Clever.” Cut to this year with our own Do Some Damage anthology, Terminal Damage, and the feeling repeated itself.
When you have a new product or a complete project, it’s had for a writer to shut up about it. When you’re in a drought, you pray that no one asks you the dreaded question: What are you working on nowadays?
I did not have a good writing year in 2010 and I’ve only myself to blame. I’ve known it for a long time, but I was always able to push it away and justify any excuse in my mind. After all, if it’s a mental conversation, no one but me, myself, and I hear it.
Over the Thanksgiving break, we joined my wife’s extended family in Louisiana. It was the first time I’d seen many of these folks for six to ten years. A long time. I met cousins who hadn’t been born the last time I was in Louisiana. Since most of the readers of the family know I’m a writer, the dreaded question reared its ugly head...more than once.
Standing there, face to face with another person, having to explain away a bad non-writing year, well, it sucks. The feelings generated inside made me feel small, stupid, and almost worthless. All the weirdo justifications I’ve told myself I went ahead and said out loud, and they sounded so inane to the ear. All those good feelings--the ones you experience when you finish a story--seemed so, so far away.
For anything (everything?) in life, you can’t just experience good things. Frankly, that’s boring and monotonous. You have to experience the bad, the dark valley, to know what the mountain feels like. But many of the things you experience are outside of your control.
Not so writing. You control when you write and when you don’t. You own it all. Excuses can only go so far. After awhile, its a choice not to write. And, to be brutally honest, for the most part this year, I’ve chosen not to write. It’s a sucky feeling when I realized it over the Thanksgiving break.
And it’s one I won’t forget in 2011. In fact, it’s already driving me nuts that I wasted so much time doing nothing this year. Joelle, in her column last week, wrote that we need to give ourselves permission not to write. I agree. But I will add an addendum: when you’ve blown off writing, own that, too. Don’t blame anything or anyone else. Blame yourself. I know I do.