“I’m blocked”

March 30, 2009

This lament came to me over the weekend from an author I’d met at a conference. There has been plenty discussion on blogs and writer’s boards over the legitimacy of writer’s block -whether it’s a figment of a writer’s imagination, ergo laziness, or a real result of the synapses refusing to play nicely with one another.

I call it vapor lock. According to Wikipedia, vapor lock occurs when the liquid fuel changes state from liquid to gas while still in the fuel delivery system. Yup, that about sums it up for me. Our liquid fuel (ideas) must go from our central computer’s delivery system (brain) to real words on paper. But somewhere along the way, the liquid fuel turns to gas while still locked in the central computer’s delivery system, and those thoughts fail to hit the paper. Vapor lock.

I can’t say I’ve ever experienced vapor lock, but I’m not so big an ass as to think it doesn’t exist. Just because I’ve never seen the wind doesn’t mean I don’t feel its effects. A vapor-locked author is no less real. It’s how an author deals with their vapor lock that separates the Twinkie from the cream – or the salt from the margarita.

Do they gut it out and write through the lock? Do they work on another scene? Do they act the scene out, like in a movie, in order to make the scene more real? Do they write a short story in another genre? Do they play on the freeway, or dance on the bar counter singing “I’m a Little Teacup”?

When I asked the author, she gave  me a strange look. “I drink when I get stuck.”

Yikes, I hope she has a good liver and kidney donor.

So short of doing damage to your innards, how do authors deal with vapor lock? Anyone? Anyone?


Healthy, realistic attitude

September 21, 2008

J.A. Konrath’s blog post about artistic anguish hit home because I see the fallout of that mindset more than I care to admit – thankfully not among my authors, who are the best in the world. Inflated egos bite the big one because these people are so hard to work with. The notion of “suffering for my art” and “I can’t meet my deadline because I have writer’s block” pings my gag reflex. This is supposed to be fun, people. Stories come pouring out of us because we’re inspired from what burns within. If it ain’t burning, it ain’t because there is some magic gremlin that eats its way into our brains and steals our words. It’s called lack of concentration or motivation.

I’m a writer, and I feel motivated every time I sit down to write; when I’m depressed, pissed off, maniacally happy, or feelin’ just fine. I have a job to do, and I do it. I may write piles of crap that needs major editing later on, but I got the thought processes down. And like Konrath, I find the whole back-of-the-hand-to-the-forehead-woe-is-me thing as melodrama on crack. Get over yourself already. Rejoice that you have the good fortune to have a story inside of you that you’re putting down on paper.

Konrath’s roll-up-the-sleeves-and-get-to-work attitude is like a breath of fresh. His approach to writing and promotion is one of the healthiest I’ve seen because he doesn’t sit around waiting for someone else to make his success happen.

If it’s my name on the book, it’s my job to sell it. My goal is simple; to make my publisher money, so they’ll buy my next book.

(lustful sigh) I’m considering investigating cloning more closely. The next time I see Konrath at the BEA, I plan on stealing a piece of his DNA.

%d bloggers like this: