Episode 40 – Unhappiness Abounds!
July 7, 2012 Newbie Writers Podcast
The Newbie Writer’s Podcast – Episode 40
I just read ‘Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path’ by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott. I found the book at Share Exchange in Santa Rosa, hard back, but I wanted to purchase something to support the effort and I collect books on the writing process, so it wasn’t a big sacrifice. And I enjoyed this book; the authors identify the seven steps on the writer’s path as:
Unhappiness, Wanting, Commitment, Wavering, Letting Go, Immersion, Fulfillment. I will not belabor the points here; you can read the book yourself. But I do want to point out that the authors cover something that is sometimes over looked and misunderstood: unhappiness. I think this unhappiness or restlessness is critical to how authors wrestle with their own heads and limitations. Newbie writers think of this as failure, other writers and creatives consider this unhappiness as an inadequacy or worse, a sign they should quit creative work and take up insurance sales, just like their father told them to do. I even lost a client because she wanted me to fix this step and did not want to do the necessary other steps to get from unhappiness back to writing (or commitment if you like to follow your steps in chronological order).
“Unhappiness, to one degree or another, is where all creativity begins.” And the even more interesting observation: “Boredom is a dead giveaway to the probability that creative is lurking in your psyche.”
Are you bored with what you are creating? Are you unhappy with the work and unsatisfied? Then you are about to move forward. Don’t push against the unhappiness; rather find a creative outlet that is different – sometimes very different, than what you are trying to create. Just the inattention will sometimes do the trick and reduce the unhappiness time and lead you to the solution.
So if you write, dance, sing, collage, paint. If you dance, write your memoirs. If you paint, write poems. I encourage you to look at your unhappiness and restlessness as outwards manifestations of your inner turmoil, once you see it and feel it, you can get back to what you really want to say, and really want to do, that much faster.
Bring out your dead:
Business As Usual.
I had said to her in one session that I didn’t feel we were exploring the root causes of why I have trouble leaving my house, why I have this ‘Social Anxiety’ as one doctor put it. Her response was, “As much as the past does effect who we are, we cannot change that. But we can change what we do now. You need to be prepared to work at reprogramming your brain to accept it. Oh and by the way, you don’t have social anxiety. You have what I call Anticipation Anxiety.”
I refrained from making a joke about sex but let it sink in. Social anxiety was my grip on what I had. It was “my excuse.” I try to be open and very determined once I have something figured out. When I was told I had social anxiety, I hit the internet and delved into the world of everything social anxiety. But it didn’t really gel with me. I was removed from a forum for people with social anxiety because they felt I was “bullshitting them” and belittling them. The truth was, I was trying to encourage them to go outside. Go to the letterbox. After all, I am like them aren’t I? I have panic attacks and dread socialising. Except, I push myself to go anyway? Perhaps I’m a gluttons for punishment. To be told I had anticipation anxiety was like a slap in the face to wake me up.
What if you did nothing but wait? What are we waiting for? What are we biding our time until?
Waiting for christmas, Waiting for something to be over so we can begin. Waiting for a big promotion?
What do we do with that time? Watch TV, mess around? do paper work?
Write about about what you do with that waiting time.
Word of the week
A conkerer plays the British game of conkers. A brief description may be desirable for those unfamiliar with it. Conkers has two players, each armed with a nut of the horse chestnut threaded on a string. Players take turns hitting their opponent’s nut with their own. The player whose nut breaks first loses.
Conker is a dialect word that originally meant a snail shell, with which the game was first played, though without the strings (it would be classed as animal cruelty these days, as the shells were frequently still occupied). Frederick Ross described it in A Glossary of Words Used in Holderness in the East-Riding of Yorkshire of 1877: “In the boy’s game of conkers the apexes of two shells are pressed together until one is broken, the owner of the other being the victor.”
Strangely, for a game often considered to be an immemorial part of the English annual round of boy’s games, the snail sense is first recorded only from the early nineteenth century, and the horse chestnuts one from the 1880s. The word might be from conch, but could equally well be a respelling of conqueror, since the game was often spoken of and spelled that way in the nineteenth century.