Writing and Other Crap

 

As a beginning—and possibly deluded—writer, I often find myself balking in my task. The truth is, if the idea doesn’t feel right; if it’s not completely formed, planned, and envisioned from start to finish, I can’t write it. As such, I spend a lot of time not writing. I pace like a caged animal. I wander around the house, and streets, distracted, looking for that perfect, mythical place where the words flow from me as easily as oil on water and the story locks together like a well-oiled machine. Some think I’m grimacing like an undertaker. Others suspect I’m out to commit murder. In actual fact, I’m just plugged up.

 

Sometimes, such as when there’s nothing else to talk about, someone will make the mistake of asking me what’s wrong. When I explain that I’m a writer, again only if someone’s too slow to change the topic of conversation, people will ask what it’s like.

 

I’ve pondered how best to put this into words for some time now. Funny that I should think on it for months, and then it clicks together in the space of just a few minutes. (That’s why writers drink. We hate our brains for screwing with us). This is intended to answer that longstanding question once and for all, as well as to see if other writers are of a like mind.

 

Writing a story, be it a short or a whole series, is exactly like trying to expel a concrete cinder block from your rectal chamber.

 

The analogy is simple, crude, easily sympathized with, and appropriate in all ways. At the beginning, the base idea, much like the cinder block, is an intruder and demands your fullest attention in the strongest terms possible. Now, you may very much wish to expel the cinder block immediately, to get it out and over with, but it’s not that easy. Rome was not built in a day. One mind was not designed to plan it all. Nor were you designed to propel something so vast, solid, and weighty from your colon.

 

It’s the sort of thing you’ve got to work up to. To do otherwise could have catastrophic results. So, no matter the degree of urgency, you pace yourself. You give a little grunt here, a shove there, testing the shape of it, trying to build momentum. However, no matter how patient and methodical you may be, there’s always that nagging in the back of your mind that wants to get it over and done with, that damns you for not having achieved more at the end of each day. It’s understandable. There’s a freaking cinder block in you, but no one ever seems to notice. Conversely, there’s the part of you that doesn’t wish to proceed. It’s already tired and all too aware that, no matter what, the coming days, weeks, months, and years are REALLY going to suck.

 

In the interim, oooooooooh the suffering. Oh the wailing. The agony. The gnashing of teeth and contortions as you give one seemingly inhuman heave after another, fighting against something that just will not come out. You’ve counted thirty-seven individual moments in which you were perfectly capable of taking another life, and the rest of the time you wish someone would take yours if it’ll just stop.

 

But finally, miraculously, disbelievingly, it’s out. Some people would think this cause for celebration, or at least respite. They, however, are not the ones who have just devoted God knows how long to crapping out a stupid load of concrete. With pointy edges. In the process, you’ve lost a good deal of blood and a few parts of yourself that you didn’t realize how much you liked until they were gone.

 

So your cinder block’s in the bowl. Not much good it’s going to do just sitting there. What now? You may feel that no one has ever accomplished such a momentous feat before. However, no matter how much you consider the experience unique, there isn’t a friend or family member on the planet—and I don’t care how starved for attention or company they might be—that wants to hear about it. And, trust me, they certainly don’t want to actually SEE the result of your ordeal.

 

Since that avenue of vindication for your suffering is blocked off, you do what seems natural and clean up your cinder block. You might scrub, wash, and work that cinder block for another year or two, until there never was a cleaner cinder block on the planet. Congratulations, schmuck, you’ve just made your cinder block indistinguishable from the countless millions of others out there. And you certainly haven’t changed the fact of where it came from.

 

So you’ve now wasted years, if not decades, on your cinder block. Your family and friends don’t care and are considering paying you so they don’t have to hear about it again. You and your cinder block are alone. Some encouragement would be nice, but you know that without someone actually inspecting your cinder block, anything they said would be baseless platitudes. All you really want is a little recognition. At this point, you’re done dreaming that your cinder block will be part of something big. Whatever hope you might’ve had has long since been beaten out of you.

 

Still, getting that cinder block out almost killed you and you’ll be damned if it just sits and collects dust. By God, if you’ve gotta sell your soul to Santa to get some recognition for your strange and freakish accomplishment, you’ll do it without a second thought. The problem is, though you shat out a cinder block, so have many other people. Chances are your cinder block is just as good as theirs, but they’re already established cinder block suppliers to major construction companies. You’re strictly smalltime, and because no one will give you a chance in a dying industry, you’ll stay smalltime.

 

In summation, after all your blood, sweat, and tears, you are still faced with the onerous task of selling a complete stranger something which is, since it came from your ass, shit.

 

I would say “good luck,” but a part of that oily rag I call a soul shrivels up and flakes away every time someone says that, hands me back my rejected cinder block, flashes a fake smile, and hurriedly walks away, intent on flinging money at an established cinder block shitter who’s so experienced at passing the damn things that he (or she these days) can’t sit on a barstool without slowly sliding down to ground level. Ooh, look at the run-on sentance!

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Comments 15 comments

Jeff May profile image

Jeff May 5 years ago from St. Louis

While the overabundance of scatological references seems unnecessary, I got a chuckle for the "summation." It is frustrating that your frustration is shared by so many other frustrated writers, isn't it? I've written lots of crap, but rarely have I felt plugged up. Now that I'm older, I just feel worn out.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Worn out, huh? The sign of an experienced cinder block manufacturer.


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 5 years ago from Arlington, TX

When I don't feel like writing I don't. If the spirit moves me I do.

The Frog


Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Then presumably you were moved to comment? Thanks.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States

Gotten a few too many rejection letters this week, have you? Well, write me if you want. I was actually in the process of looking over one of your cinder-block shaped ideas (not passed yet, presumably), and felt the urge to read something cleaner. ;-) Now I'm questioning that wisdom, because, really, I've never pictured myself as being that interested in scatology (in spite of the strange things I occassionally find in my rural yard).

On a more serious note, I admit that writing can be a lot like carrying and then birthing a baby...which I think is a nicer way of saying the same thing. The difference between you and me is, you want to know *exactly* what that baby looks like before it's born. Me, I figure that it is what it is, and if it really comes down to it, plastic surgery could be an option. I'm happy to hold it and let it grow...watch it sleep...soothe its crying...give it the breast until it at least understands its potential and turns into something mobile and socially active. Then I guess its like helping a kid get into college, huh?


Jarn profile image

Jarn 5 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

You always have a way of taking everything I say in such stride. I had honestly expected you to start getting a little annoyed by me harping on the same thing time and again. And no, the rejection letters have been pretty steady lately, to the degree that I'm not foolishly allowing myself to get my hopes up. I've just been having trouble finding a good place to sit and write lately. I've finally got the storyline for that short story you were talking about down in full, but I can't seem to drop into that mindset where the narrative starts flowing. It's like whenever I get a glimpse of that peaceful place, I can't jump on it because it's 5 AM and I don't want to wake anyone, or I'm doing chores, or I'm at the store, etc. And when I do finally have the time and quiet, I just stare at the empty page. I wouldn't call it writer's block so much as life getting in the way.

As for the differences in analogy, I was kinda using something crude just to get a laugh. Everyone's been constipated, right? But the idea of having a kid scares me so deeply and on so many levels, I can't even begin to imagine what it's like. Thing is, even from a young age, a kid can in some ways help or hinder his own future. A story is entirely yours to mould, and I'm just not the kind of person to trust something that important to chance.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States

Not chance, God. He tells me what to write, and I don't therefore need to know what the finished product looks like before I get there. He knows, and that's enough.


Joy At Home profile image

Joy At Home 5 years ago from United States

As to life getting in the way, and ideas getting quashed, lost, or deflated before they get to paper, have you asked the Lord to help you hold onto them in all their clarity, until the time is right to get them down? If they're worthwhile, He'll keep them for you, and at least bring them back when He wants you to do something with them. He knows what you're supposed to write.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 5 years ago from Hemet, Ca

This made me think of a little "bet" that I have going on. My mother in law and I were talking and I mentioned that i was having a hard time concentrating and really putting out my words the way I wanted to. I just couldn't sit down and do it lately. She said I was burnt out and needed to take a break from writing, even though she didn't believe I could do it.... so here I sit, going through writer's withdrawal symptoms trying not to write anything until later tonight! Oh boy! I might be leaving enough of a comment on other hubs to create my own personal hub in the comments section.

Interesting take on the creative being. Well said - I feel your pain!


LiftedUp profile image

LiftedUp 5 years ago from Plains of Colorado

I have thought and thought about what to say to this one, how to possibly offer any encouragement. I stand with Joy in all her points. The all-knowing God of the universe has a plan for your writing, and I fully believe He waits to share it with you!


M. T. Dremer profile image

M. T. Dremer 5 years ago from United States

At first, the whole pooping out a cinder block didn't make sense to me as an analogy for writing, and yet after reading the entire article, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to think of a different one. I think you really hit the nail on the head with how indifferent other people are to your hard work. I've been writing a fantasy novel for over eight years and yet the only question I've ever gotten, since I started it, was "is it done yet?". Sometimes I got some decent questions from other writers, but my immediate family and their non-writing status, really made it hard for me to convey just how much work I was putting into this thing. They couldn't see it, so they couldn't understand. And then, when I gave one of the final versions to a family member, the only thing she remembers now is how much it went on and on and just wouldn't end. So, now I'm pushing my eight year old cinder block into agents' inboxes in hopes someone might pay for it. Great hub, by the way.


Jarn profile image

Jarn 4 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

Hope springs eternal. Putting your stories in other peoples' inboxes is a full-time job in and of itself. Of course, since most of them don't want you to send simultaneous submissions, you're stuck waiting 6-9 months between agents. It's even worse with short stories, since people expect you to keep writing while sending in your old work. I got a rejection letter just tonight for a story almost three years old. Took me a week to write, and every editor has given me advice on how to change it. Not one single piece of advice has been the same, and not one editor will consider looking at the story once I've rewritten it, begging the everloving question of why on earth they would bother to offer advice if no one can agree on how to fix it and nothing good will ever come of it.

Glad you liked the hub, and sorry I got off on a rant. Seems to be the only thing I can crank out these days. But you've pretty much got the point of the hub. Writing is easy. Apathy is hard. People these days are so inundated by the media that they subconsciously block anything they don't already know or want to deal with it. With the proliferation of the internet, the compartmentalization gets worse and the walls become thicker. Essentially it's getting to the point that if you're not already published, or you're not already famous, you never will be because you just can't crack through that steel-reinforced concrete layer of "I don't care" blinkering everybody nowadays.

I do it too. There are tons of books I know I should read and things I should research, but I'm just spread too thin as it is and can't be bothered to give my attention to yet one more thing. So how new writers make it into the big time, I for the life of my will never know.


Kael Myril profile image

Kael Myril 4 years ago from Tacoma, WA

Good one, Jarn! However you forgot the all important process of polishing said clunky turd! I see the analogy as crapping out a huge (or maybe not so huge) pile of concrete, then working it around and shaping and smoothing until maybe you come up with a birdbath or a garden gnome. Then you take said droppings to market and see if some misguided editor is looking for lawn ornaments.

Thanks for a great read!


Jarn profile image

Jarn 4 years ago from Sebastian, Fl Author

I admire it when a person, despite all odds and adversity, is capable of maintaining even a marginally positive demeanor or hope for the future. You seem to do this quite well, but I've just never quite had the knack of it myself.


Dim Flaxenwick profile image

Dim Flaxenwick 4 years ago from Great Britain

This is the best laugh I´ve had in ages.

I could identify with every paragraph, jarn. !

You deserve a medal for putting into words how most of us feel at times (lots of the time)

I often think of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas and why he drank so much.? It´s obvious really, He was hoping to soften the passing of the concrete brick-

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