Rime of the Modern Writer

When I was a wee writer, back before bread came pre-sliced, when I wanted to write, I just wrote. Comfort wasn’t a factor and environment wasn’t much of one either—provided water wasn’t falling from the sky directly on my head.

Then I went through my Goldilocks phase where everything had to be just so. The right music, the right lighting, the right tea. It wasn’t just environmental fussiness either; I had to be in the perfect frame of mind to create. (Yes, I’m rolling my eyes at my past self.)

I got over it. For most of my productive writing life, I’ve figured out how to make do in a variety of circumstances, how to push past whatever mood I’m in because writing will always make my mood better, and it’s that important to me. Change of scenery is usually pretty good for me creatively even if that means a couple of hours on an uncomfortable coffee shop chair. And I’ve learned that being in a pissy mood is when my snark is at optimal levels. Unfortunately, age is catching up with me in some ways, and a good keyboard is important now if I want to crank out 5k and still have my hands functional at the end of the day, but I’d still rather bang out 500 words with my thumbs on my phone than write nothing at all.

At least, that’s the way it used to be.

But then 2020 happened, and I’m just so fucking tired of this spot. The spot where I write.

I started to feel like it was the return of Goldilocks, and I challenged myself about needing everything to be just so. But I realized that’s not what’s going on. It’s this terrible melancholy every time I sit in my perfectly comfortable chair, with my great keyboard, and just…blank. I’ll be at the grocery store, standing in line, thinking about what I want to write, and then I get to my spot and I have no fucks to give about it anymore.

I’m honestly not sure how to combat the Covid ennui that has taken over my writing life. I’ve set up a couple of alternate places to write in the house during NaNo, but my gut feeling is that’s a lot like moving the bad mood to another room when I really want to move outside and let the sun burn this whole year away.

I talked to Keira about it a bit, and we talked about the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. She commented that it brought to mind the part about “Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.” And that this year for many of us is like a creative albatross.

I don’t have an easy answer except to turn to my writing peeps and say…what do we do now? How do we get through this? What’s worked for you? What are your ideas? We’re doing a write-in this weekend on Just Write to kick of NaNo. Maybe being in each other’s company a little more than usual will be a good place to begin.

-JJ

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