Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stress and writing

Stress kills the writer's imagination. Not anger, not sorrow, but anxiety. The act of writing requires that one fantasizes. You have to be able to crawl into your world, and you can't do that if the real world pulls you back every time you try.

Over the last few weeks, I've been downtown in Washington for a bomb threat. I've experienced an earthquake. And two days ago, hurricane Irene rolled through. The hurricane battered our house with 20 MPH winds that gusted to 25. The patter of raindrops almost made a sound hitting the window. The winds knocked dozens of leaves off their trees. I haven't felt anything like that since last Tuesday.

Okay, so the hurricane didn't hit all that hard. But it could have. We scoffed at the damage the hurricane would do. We laughed at the earthquake. The wife and I laughed at the bomber. None of those things affected me. No, what terrifies me and knocks the prose right out of my head, is the report that our business is still down 60%. I'm convinced I'm more terrified of being jobless than I am of ending up a lump of hamburger under a pile a rubble or getting blown to bits. I can take pain. I can't take the thought of not having any income. I can't take the thought of not being enough of a man to be needed. Getting killed in a freak accident is excusable. It happens. Getting laid off is a sign of weakness. It's inferiority. I don't mind being unlucky. I can't stand being inferior.

Trying to cleanse the stress out of mind tonight with the help of some rum. Wish me luck.


  1. It's quite difficult when so much of your confidence and mojo is tied into a job, especially when you’re a guy and have people counting on you to be the provider. I do hope this job market eases, and that people with jobs will feel more secure. I think you’re one of the strongest people I’ve been lucky enough to get to know in this writing world, Fred, and I’m certain you’ll weather anything life throws at you. If the job falls through, pack up your computer, wife, dogs and come take over this flower shop. I’d gladly bounce from friend to friend, and family across the continent until that stress puts me behind a gun and then behind bars where meals are quite regular.

  2. You're right, Fred. Stress and writing don't go together. So much happening in our house and I'm constantly being interrupted to do things. I need no more than 2,000 words to finish the current short story and it's like pulling teeth.