When It Gets Challenging

It’s a tough time of year — the weather is hot, in the way that August is always hot, and the way that portends the ever-nearing climate apocalypse. The autumn is nigh — in the way that August always precedes the too-fast downhill slope into the holidays and the end of the year.

We’re housesitting for a few days — in a beautiful house with air-conditioning and a calm, well-behaved dog. An ideal writer’s retreat… but I am not being the ideal writer, and it makes me feel ashamed of passing hours lacking in accomplishments, and it’s too easy to make the mental jump from passing hours to passing life.

I have my reasons for minimal output, as maybe writers always do. So far, it has been yet another year of almosts, promises, feigned excitement and “contracts on their way from business affairs,” that in the end… turn out to be lies. Some innocent, others intentional — plentiful enough to have some of each. the. Another year of “free” work — which, of course is a misnomer, since it’s paid for by me…

So what should I be writing? I have two stories, a feature in need to a rewrite, and three feature outlines all begun, and I find myself in a state of paralysis, unable to make a good dive into any of them.

There is the pervasive Hollywood myth, that I am realizing is much the same as myths perpetuated by abusers everywhere, that there is some right choice, some story, that if you execute it in a way that’s transcendent– that will make the relationship healthy, that will make the abuser act not act like a sociopath. If you can just be GREAT ENOUGH, then THIS TIME all the promises will be made good on, this time you will be pulled from indentured servitude into the rosy future. if YOU can pass all the tests and reach it.

I don’t believe in it anymore, and yet… and yet. Like a seven-year-old coming to some certain conclusions about Santa, I’m still like, but WHAT IF? What if there are awesome presents that you get because you’re good? So, there’s still this irrational weight placed on choosing which project to invest in — what if one of them has the potential to be a project that CHANGES EVERYTHING and I choose another one instead? Or, what if NONE of them will change everything, but there’s a project that will give me personal satisfaction, and instead I’m choosing to chase promises and pots of gold at ends of rainbows again?

At this point, my compass is so messed up (or because it’s impossible for anyone to predict) I’m having difficulty even choosing what will give personal satisfaction. Which project will be worth the frustration of finishing a draft and realizing I need to tear it down to the bones and build it yet again?

So here I stand at a fork in the road, unable to choose which way to walk forward, waiting for clarity.




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