I have been writing poems and short stories for years, some of which I have published independantly. I also blog. Writing is a loved hobby.
"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."
― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath
The Bloodsucker, A Nightmare Event
“Aargh, goshdarnit, my head hurts!” I whine loudly. I feel like picking up my computer and throwing it across the room. But then, I’d have to clean up the mess, giving myself more headaches in the process.
The dread of all writers, the writer’s block. It has to happen to everyone sometimes, and for some it happens more often than they would like.
There are times when I just do not know what to write about, or how to even begin. Those are dark days, when my mind which is usually a fertile ground of imaginations becomes the proverbial valley of the shadows, where everything is obscured in darkness and unfathomable swirly vortex of confusing but also unpredictable barren wasteland, if that makes sense.
It’s like chasing a tail-light just to see the bright beam racing further away from your reach, until eventually the car fades into the distance. Then you fall on your knees, gasping for breath and just wanting to lie down and give up, knowing that the light is out of your reach and you can never get home.
It’s like a dream you try to remember but it keeps slipping from your grasp, and the more you try to remember, the more you forget. You wake up confused, your heart racing and your soul afraid for reasons you cannot understand.
It’s frustrating and it’s maddening. It is enough to make one want to sweep everything off the table, yell, and go stomping off for long walks in the forest or on the beach.
I live far too many miles away from the beach, but the forest is literally in my backyard. I don’t go for long walks in the forest though. I might get leeches on me. I really hate the bloodsuckers.
On second though, ‘bloodsuckers’ sounds like the title of a great novel. It inspires the beginnings of a potentially great story! Maybe I should go for that walk in the forest. The leeches at least could be good for something! Dare I risk it?
…no, I wouldn’t, seriously. I still hate them blood-suckers.
But, anything for a story, right? Anything to obliterate the writer’s block. Just to get rid of the frustrations, the nightmares, the elusive feeling toying with your emotions, you might be willing to take some risks.
Seriously however, that is how you overcome the ‘block. You quickly grab the opportunity which comes your way; grasp your inspiration the moment it peeks it shiny head into your space.
In this kind of situation, when I suddenly have things to write about because inspiration suddenly peeks its head in, I just stop over-thinking, and just do.
But first, I let my mind wander, in the sense that I do not look for complicated stuffs to think about. I just think about life in general, the things which are already clear to me.
For example, I think about going for walks, and what happens on the walk. Or, I think about visiting a friend, and what that friend will likely say.
I think about the new bakery opening down the street, and how much customers seem to like the new place.
I could write several pages about such things.
With the initial result, people might think I’m all over the place, or I have no vision and do not know what I want, but I do.
I want a beginning, so I can have an end. Hopefully , the end-result will be an accomplishment worth all the time, energy and everything else I pour into it, in that it is a product I can be proud of to call my own.
But I mean, you can always review and edit. It’s what we do in life, after all.
If not, just finishing it is good enough. Sometimes. After all, you can always begin again.
Naysayers Can Be Ayesayers!
On the subject of writer’s block: I have personally found that lack of encouragement from the people you choose to share your work with to be a particularly potent ingredient for a block. Direct negative criticism is especially powerful.
We try to be strong and not let what people say affect us. But sometimes, even with our best effort, the naysayers can get into our head.
Musings being what it is, sometimes you live in your own head. You see and experience things only you know about. And then you do your best to draw it out into the world of the living, and hope people will understand you, and at the very best, accept you.
It is your reflection, your mirror image. You reflect it, such as it.
But then they reject you, and throw it in your face. They say that what you have to give is not good enough, and can never be good enough. They might imply that it is because you as a person, is simply not good enough.
You hear a lot of negative and hurtful things said about you, all designed to discourage and tear you down, for whatever reasons.
You feel so uninspired, because your mind now focuses on the things they say, and given enough times and exposures to such words, your mind can convince you that they are right.
Would they be right?
More importantly, knowing how negative they are being, how snide their tone is, and that they obviously say it not out of the goodness of their heart or for your benefit, would you let them be right?
I have my fair share of criticism. I mean, you just can’t escape from such things.
However, you have to know which are good for you, and which are bad. You must be able to tell the difference.
As I said, I have had my fair share of criticism.
With the constructive criticism, given to point out my mistakes and weaknesses, I gladly accept them. Such criticisms are usually mixed with suggestions on how to improve and strengthen my position.
True, sometimes they hurt, especially when I think that I have submitted my best work. But the people make it easier for me. The people giving the criticism do so in a kind, thoughtful and respectful way. It is not hard to believe that they have my best interest at heart. There are such unselfish and helpful people, yes.
The naysayers, not so much. It took some time, but I have learned to ignore them.
There was that one time when I was rejected because I wasn’t intellectual enough. I mean, what? I wasn’t trying to be, a fact I was very aware of when I began my project, and deliberately did it the way I wanted it. It was the whole concept of it, to not be intellectual. It was the niche I chose, however small it was.
But apparently, I presented it to the wrong group of people. Or maybe it was just the one person.
They said, in not so many word, Rejected….if you could re-write and use this style of presentation…use this word instead of that word…be more sophisticated, bla-bla-bla…
Their guidelines would work for their style or concept, but not for my particular project. Changing it would change everything which made it uniquely mine.
I felt awful. Awfully rejected, that was. I could stop writing. I mean, why bother, if people won’t read what I have to write because I didn’t write intellectual stuff?
But it was done, I wrote and submitted my piece. I suppose, in hindsight, I should have made a complete survey of the platform, and determine if my piece would have conformed to their style and concept. In that, I possibly made a mistake.
The Poem, It Rhymes!
But, on a brighter note, it highlighted the need for another platform for my particular style of project, and I set out to find it. I found several.
True, there are people who wanted to read the ‘heavy, intellectual stuffs’, but is that all there is to the literary field? Are people into ignoring all things emotional and soul-ish? Is there no place for the ‘simple’?
Of course not and of course there is. The literary field is made up of all kinds of writers and readers. I almost forgot that there were many genres and platforms.
So, after that particular rejection, I did my research and found out that there is a market for my type of work. There are markets for different types of works. At the very lest, there are showrooms for writers to get their works out there so readers can find them. It is good exposure.
After getting over the whole frustrations and disappointment, I was calm enough to pen a response letter and let the publishers know I would not change my concept.
I would try somewhere else. And as I already mentioned, I found many other opportunities and exposures for my works.
This reminds me of that one time a Poetry Publication website invited participants to submit their best works for publishing considerations.
I was ready to hit the ‘submit’ button when I read the Submission Guidelines again and found these rules, among others : Must not rhyme….must not come across as trying too hard.
I guess I missed those parts of the rules, I admit I just breezed through them. The greatest lie on the Internet - “I have read all the Terms and Conditions’. Ha, more fool me.
Anyway, all my Poetry rhymes.
And I wasn’t trying too hard, because writing Poetry is among my greatest passions and I could write one on the prompt, most times.
I even had published two Poetry Books.
So I withdrew my submission, and rather than write a new Poetry which did not rhyme, I came up with this instead:
Poetry : The Poem, It Rhymes!
‘Write a poem’, they say, ‘but make it rhyme not’,
‘I will try my hardest’, I say, ‘to do it your way’;
So I pick up my pen, and my back I bend,
Trying to write this poem as good as I can;
So I write a sentence and then comes the second
Which I try my hardest to not make it rhyme;
Well, I guess ‘line’ and ‘rhyme’ only almost sound
When you think too much about rhymes….which is
Or so they say, so I’m trying again,
To make this poem which mustn’t rhyme, see if I
So I crack my knuckles, and pick up a fresh paper,
And put elbows to my desk to come up with
‘Do not rhyme, do not rhyme’ my brain shouts at
‘You’re going to rhyme, darn it you’ll see!’
‘No I won’t’ my other voice denies,
‘I will write what I can ‘cos therein my heart lies';
So I write these sentences, hoping it will stay true,
To what they say my poem must come through,
No rhymes, no poetry which looks like it tries too
To make it seem like a greeting card.
Happily I am writing and scratching my brain
To finish a poetry as best as I can.
I end with a flourish, and sign my name,
And there you have it, I’m at the top of my game!!
…..well, golly-gee, they all rhyme,
Boohoohoo, what a waste of time!!!
So I Did A Thing!
I didn’t even feel bad that I couldn’t submit my poems to that site, because I just wrote a new poem on the spot! I was very inspired, you see.
You take inspiration where you get it, and you write!
Someone said that, “rejection is just an opportunity to seek new venues”, or maybe it is “rejection is just a door to new opportunities.”
I could have just butchered the saying. Either way, I agree with both.
Some of the ‘naysayers might mean well, but when they say “No” and even downright discourage you, then it is time to turn your sight somewhere else. Someone will say ‘yes’.
"You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."
― Saul Bellow
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Lynne Samuel