What Do You Do When…

So: what do you do when fall comes, you’re enrolled in a creative writing program, you write a blog, and you have absolutely no inspiration to write?

In short, you inhabit a constant state of guilt and panic about the things you aren’t writing. (Especially the magnificent silence you produce in response to a massive New York Times Magazine feature addressing exactly your subject matter and on which seemingly everyone on the internet has at least 140 characters to say.)

You allow yourself to focus on various other tasks that more readily demand attention, like planning classes and making attendance spreadsheets and doing your own reading multiple times because you were too distracted the first few contemplating bad essay ideas and thinking about how unproductive you are. You try and reassure yourself that you aren’t the only person in the world who is deadline-driven, and attempt to ignore the comment made by one of your professors that usually, people who say they write best on deadline, only write on deadline.

You read a nonfiction essay in which the narrator equates the discipline of running marathons with that of his writing practice, only to realize that his logic is flawed. You go to the gym.

You scan the messages you receive from internet suitors, wonder whether the unattractive ones truly expect you to write back and if the attractive ones look anything like their posted photos. You respond to almost none of them, and instead post additional pictures of yourself that make you look prettier and thinner than you actually are. You feel a little bit smug about ignoring your inbox and wonder if the whole enterprise has served its purpose of boosting your confidence, and if it’s already time to abandon the project because do you even have time to date?

Instead, you impulsively agree to have coffee with two potentially attractive men with whom you’ve had virtually no contact–one of whom sent you a message a month ago you theorizing about your perfect eyebrows, a trait whose under-appreciation you humorously called attention to in your profile–and another who in his first message called your profile “extensive.”

At night you cook dinner–bowls of quinoa salad, spaghetti with homemade sauce and vietnamese noodles–with your roommate and drink copious amounts of wine because she’s just gotten back and the semester is just beginning and soon you will have papers to grade and essays to revise and what is the point of living with your best friend if you don’t eat boozy meals together? You assure each other that even if you gain fifteen pounds you will still be more attractive than most people in Albuquerque, and one of these days you both might end up back in New York so you should really take advantage and be ugly now. You eat more noodles.

You anticipate the structural problems of a book idea you’ve recently had and which you have not begun writing. There might be strucutural problems, you tell yourself, so you can’t. You make an appointment to meet with your professor and hope that he’ll know exactly what to do and exactly what you should write.

You realize that, truthfully, he won’t know and that he can’t tell you. You have to figure it out for yourself. You remember the advice you gave your creative writing students yesterday about suppressing the “conscious mind” and realize that you just need to stop worrying, sit down, and write. You think about how much easier it is to give this wisdom than it is to take it.

You remember a post that a blogging friend of yours once wrote, in which she managed her own lack of inspiration by resolving to write about it. You decide that this is one of those ideas it is okay to steal.

You write a blog post in the second person, mimicking Lorrie Moore because what self-respecting female MFA student doesn’t write at least one piece attempting to copy her voice?

You think that you still aren’t sure what to write about next. But at least you’ve written something. You feel better.


Filed under Love Life

4 responses to “What Do You Do When…

  1. ep

    I’d like to point out that technically, he’s not your professor (the deadline guy) and that you don’t have a deadline for your blog. You aren’t deadline driven in all aspects of your life, at least!

    • Haha, yes, true–he is not technically my professor. (And you, nor I, are not technically his TA, but that’s another story!) And thanks, E, for the reinforcement–you know I need it ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. suzanne

    well done! pass the noodles!

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