I’m taking a brief break from composing the outline for Mermaid Story to do look at some of the critiques that have been sent in for Black Hole Son so far. I’m integrating the obvious ones in (grammar and punctuation and the like), and making notes about the more global things to fix.
The writing attitude has not been good lately. I feel like I’ve been in a rut. I know I say this every so often, but some periods (in units of days), I can only think of bad memories, and they make me shudder. I can’t think of any good memories, or the good memories have no pleasant emotional reaction to counter-act the negative emotions. Every little foilble, every mistake, every misspoken word comes back with inappropriately large trauma. I find myself harkenning back to positive memories like Fruitopia and video games. Maybe it’s because of my birthday, but if so, it must be subconscious because I never think much about that. Like nature, I’m not one to celebrate benchmarks with whistles and bells (but if it gets me some Daves BBQ Shack and ice cream pie, so much the better).
I watched Cinderella Man last night, for research on the main character in Mermaid Story (who is a boxer), and it struck me what a well-suited metaphor it is for writing. You punch and flail, tripping around the ring, trying to land a decent, clean hit, but 90% of the time you’re clashing/hugging your opponent (I’m sure there’s a technical term for it, but I don’t know what it is), not accomplishing anything. Most of the time, you feel like you just can’t do it – you’re not physically strong enough, tall enough, tough enough, to defeat your opponent. Or your not confident enough, you had a bad day, you’re not focused on the fight, you’re not quick enough to dodge the punches. I don’t know what the ratio of mental toughness to physical toughness you need to achive the perfect balance of succeeding in a fight, but it seems to fluctuate.
That’s what writing is, trying day to day to replicate the same success you’ve had in the past, while dodging the failures. Sometimes you feel like you just can’t do it, that your mind just can’t reach that bar.