Okay, so it’s been two weeks now that I’ve been working full-time at the bookstore. Nights and weekends. It’s fun, I get to look at pretty books all day and alphabetize — I am one of those nerdy types who finds alphabetizing a soothing and engaging activity — and help customers find books as best I can. Even the foot-killing four-hour register shifts haven’t really dampened my enthusiasm.
I haven’t been able to write since I started.
It’s not a question of inspiration. I still have all my ideas, I’m still doing research, still fine-tuning outlines. The stories are somewhere, waiting. But every time I sit in front of the keyboard, all I can think, over and over, like the phonograph inside my head is stuck on this one groove, is this:
I’m so tired.
I’ll try to push through — I know that voice can be made to go away — but every time I put down a sentence I know it is wrong. Know, deep down in my bones, that there is no life in it. Everything feels so absurdly shallow, suddenly — not in terms of subject matter, but in terms of my own engagement. And a writer disengaged from what she’s writing is not going to write anything worth reading. Especially not in romance.
And it hurts, because I like to think of myself as disciplined, as determined, as a writer who works and does not wait for inspiration to strike. I’ve gotten stuck before — who hasn’t? — but when one story is stuck another one is sure to be working, so I bounce from one to the other until the first one unsticks itself, like they always do.
This is the first time I can ever remember where nothing is working.
And it feels as though I have failed on some profound moral level. Chuck Wendig, penmonkey patron saint, would certainly disapprove. But it seems, to my shame, that I am somehow fundamentally incapable of working full-time and also doing anything substantive in the wordsmithery.
I tell myself to just get on with it. But the listening half of me has that same gut-level revulsion as when your coach in the sport of your choice looks at your broken ankle and tells you to walk it off.
Other writers do this. They do this all the time.
What on earth is wrong with me?
In comments: please leave sympathy, tips, and any good jokes you may have heard lately. Bonus points if they involve terrible puns. You see what I’ve been reduced to.