The Power of Negative Thinking

I woke this morning to howling winds. It’s dark and raining –perfect for staying in bed or for curling up with tea and a book. Or for writing. Usually this kind of weather lends itself to concentration and immersion in whatever project I’m working on. Recently, I’ve been struggling to write. It’s happened before but never for this long. I really haven’t put new ideas down on paper since before the holidays.

I’ve alluded to the stress I’m experiencing in my personal life –let’s just say that it is ongoing– and it’s had a dramatic impact on my ability to write. This too, is a new phenomenon. My best writing usually comes from that dark space inside. But this is different. And perhaps it has to do with the subject matter I’ve been working on. Without realizing it, I’ve given Maya –my main character– the same ‘kinds’ of issues that are troubling me as well. And maybe striking so close to home has stayed my hand. Because I can’t see the way forward personally, I can’t see the way forward fictionally.

However, the whole thing is tied up in a bundle together. If I can’t get the writing back on track, it will compound the rest of the stress I’m feeling. I have to act. If life would just imitate art, I could write myself a solution for my real problems and my fictional ones.


From early in 2016: one of my favorite rhyming poems…

Every night I drift to sleep
As darkness makes me blind
And yet my vision attenuates
With my sharply focused mind

I travel over a thousand miles
To a hostile, forbidding land
The witching hours drag so slowly
Moon lights the evil plan

The hungry mouths, the feral eyes
So dreadful is their gaze
Circle round with deadly purpose
Muscles tighten and I brace

They are confident that I am caught
But I’ve yet to meet my end
With guile and cunning, I make my move
On this my life depends

When I have dodged and feinted
I smell their fetid breath
As I flee into the forest
I escape those jaws of death

It’s only upon awakening
Chilled, yet dripping wet
That I realize the nightmare beasts
Haven’t killed me yet

Just burn…

Apropos of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I’d repost this favorite of mine.

Why do I write in the light
When the dark is so intoxicating?
Just to keep up appearances…
Do I continue to smile though I’m dying?
How do I find my voice
Amidst a cacophony of screaming?
I don’t want your self-help diatribe
I don’t want your power of positive thinking

I can’t hear myself think
Let alone pen a work of distinction
I need a strong, stiff drink
But that’s only self-medication
And what’s it all mean anyway?
When nothing’s going to give satisfaction
Just a book full of ink spots
That sits on a shelf gathering desolation

How do I come to grips
With my own profound unhappiness?
I’m nothing but thunderstorms and anger
Keep your sunshine and sweetness
I have no more words of encouragement
It’s cruelty, competition, unfairness
The theme for the day is belligerent
It’s outworking displays its aggressiveness

So save your kindly comments
And your gestures of reverent concern
For into the fires of failure
I let the manuscripts burn
Lick the curling hundreds of pages
Kindle the books, at each turn
Throw gas on the conflagration
And I’m gone, never more to return…