There’s this problem, which has become particularly challenging in recent days.
Writers do not live in a vacuum. Which is a good thing. Because if they did, what exactly would they write about?
“How ‘bout this vacuum!”
That wouldn’t be easy. How many things can you say about a vacuum? After exhausting the “Novelty Factor”, of what continuing interest are the chronicles of a person living in a vacuum to the majority of the populace who aren’t?
A RESPECTED CRITIC: “Acknowledging the imaginative writing style, the limited subject matter inevitably wears out its welcome.”
I believe I have beaten that one to death, don’t you?
And this is what matters.
Since writers are not living in a vacuum, they are, as is everyone, affected by the circumstances that surround them. I have no idea about serious writers. Maybe an environment of tragedy and travail is precisely what invigorates their juices.
SERIOUS WRITER: “The world is going to hell in a hand basket. I must write!”
But when it comes to non-serious writers – even non-serious writers with sometimes serious aspirations – the response to negative stimuli is the opposite of invigorating.
NON-SERIOUS WRITER: “The world’s going to hell in a hand basket. I’m going to lie down.”
That’s exactly how I’ve been feeling lately, the “Events of the Day” draining my enthusiasm, sending me foot-dragging to the computer. (And doing less than my stellarest work.)
In a single recent weekend:
A megalomaniac (with a passionate following) running for president. A mass murdering in Orlando. And as if the “Trash Bin of Terribleness” were not filled to overflowing…
“Hold on! There’s one more.”
An alligator carries off a two year-old baby.
All that craziness swirling around you, and then it’s…
I’ll be honest with you.
I am experiencing some difficulty.
“The ‘Poor Me’ Paragraph”:
You begin with age-related energy depletion, augmented by the increasing challenge of “How many stories can you write?” Toss on the increasingly burdening brick of “Troubling Times” and the normally exhilarating process of writing is suddenly a knee-buckling extravaganza.
… is what I’m talking about.
How do I handle it?
There is this salvaging technique.
With the indispensible assistance of my unconscious, some forgotten recollection floats to mind, guaranteed to make myself laugh.
(Leading to my consequently passing that laugh along, should you possibly be similarly chagrined.)
A current example:
Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
An ancient black-and-white TV show – for kids, but not entirely – featuring “Kukla”, a male hand-puppet, boasting a bulbous nose and a solitary “kiss curl”, Fran Allison, their female human companion, and “Ollie”, a puppet crocodile with a “stand alone” front tooth, the puppets voiced by the off-screen genius of Burr Tillstrom.
In this restorative recollection, Fran sings a duet with Kukla as Ollie bops contentedly along. As the song reaches its crescendo, Kukla turns encouragingly to Ollie and says,
“Come on, Ollie. Sing along.”
A BEAT OF SILENCE.
Then Ollie turns to the camera, projecting an unmistakable look that says,
Explanation (possibly unnecessary): A puppeteer, even a masterful one, cannot sing in two voices at the same time, triggering Ollie’s quizzical reaction.
That magical memory got me to my writing desk this morning.
Events continuing as they are…
I’m going to need another one tomorrow.