Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Looming Genre Cliff: A Reflection

Ben 124

The Looming Genre Cliff

This morning, I'm starting a brand-new writing project—one that's in a different genre than my usual—and I’m experiencing all sorts of emotional turbulence. It’s helping me remember what it is like to have a writing block. Puts me in touch with what others who are facing writing blocks—what they might be feeling.
The fear. The sense of standing at the edge of a glass wave that's also a sort of cliff.
This fear of the unknown is compounded by all sorts of predetermined thoughts I might hold about that new not-yet-written piece: daydreams of outcome, reactions of as-of-yet non-existent audiences. I’m even anticipating my own pleasure at the contemplation of a final version of this writing project.
Those are the (mostly) pleasant thoughts.
Then there’s the fact that my pulse is elevated and my breathing constricted.
I’m anxious. This situation heightens the inner conversation I am having about my writing ability and writing quality. What normally hums non-stop behind the scenes at inaudible levels is now vibrating and in bold letters.
Any noise (someone coughing in the household, the branch of heavy black footsteps overhead) is a spike in irritation because it makes me more aware of standing on this precipice between writing and not-writing. Also, those disturbances increase the volume of my inner talk about my current writing situation.
But, hey, I’ve recently been looking for something to shake me out of my lassitude with poetry. I’m done writing 95% of my next book. No longer invested in the invention phase for the manuscript, my energies had tilted toward editing and sculpting it for readers. I can’t dwell any longer in the creating phase for this book; it’s almost as though I’m being forced out of its space.
Well, starting a new genre and a new project has definitely taken the lethargy out of me (Evidence A: rapid pulse staring at screen).
I think this is happening to me because I've got a nice routine established.  By having a morning poetry practice (which I probably do 360 days out of the year), I've established a comfortable way to re-engage my inner voice each day for the purposes of this type of writing. The pens and notebook I use, the coffee I make, the sequence of events that gets me to my writing desk fifteen minutes after waking up.
With this new genre, I'm mainly noticing my discomfort, but I appreciate this situation. I’m not going to push this discomfort away. Instead, I’ll stand at the edge of this genre cliff and observe, watching my breath, and observe.

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