19 January 2012

Forks, Branches and Right Path: The Search

“If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you'll never be a novelist.”
Neil Gaiman
Thanks, Neil.  Like I really need the reminder that I may be a decent poet (but I can't be objective about that), and that I may never be a novelist. (sigh).  These days, I'm far from inspired.

I have been chewing on this bon mot for a few days.  There has been much going on in the alternate universe that is Gumbo's Brain, much of it fueled by the relentless pressure of the Job Hunt.  As the saying goes, looking for a job is a full-time job. It isn't physically strenuous, but mentally, it can really abrade the contact surfaces, you dig?  On the good days, it is a faint fatigue on the soul.  On the bad days...well, then it is like a big bag of wet cement laid across the head and shoulders.  It is heavy, and it presses you into the floor.  A big bucket o' suck, it is.

So what does that have to do with being a novelist?  Nothing and everything, I suppose.  My current job search has to play to my resume in order to have the most chance of success.  The search has to cleave closely to my documentable (i.e., 'paid and credentialed'), and that is nowhere near the territory of a novelist.  So there is the Nothing.

Tantalizingly, there are a number of conceptual parallels between writing and architecture.  There are also many direct intersections.  A lot of what I do (did) as an architect involved writing.  Writing notes, reports, specifications, proposals, estimates, you name it.  A careful describing of all sorts of things, written in dense paragraphs and splashed across brochures, coded into permit applications and construction cost spreadsheets.  There is a certain need for attention to detail and language and craft, even if much of it was technical and not truly creative.

"Being A Writer" is my big idea, an alternate path to gainful use of my time; becoming a Novelist would be the culmination of a dream-seed that has been germinating in my head for some years now.  I hadn't considered it as a full-time pursuit, because of the necessity of the real-life job.

A job that went away last October.  Leaving me in a free-fall of which I am still not in control.

This leads back to the Everything I mentioned above.  I am now at a crossroads.  I have been searching for a job in the field in which I have training and credentials; as a matter of common sense and necessity, I am obligated for it.

As a matter of survival and adaptability, however, it is becoming increasingly clear that I have to make a transition from writer to Writer, if I want to keep the wheels turning.  I must consider blazing a new trail, climbing a new cliff.  It is a new world order, and I cannot keep going back to the same things, performing the same actions, and expecting a different result. 

I'm weary, dear friends.  The drain of my predicament (but make no mistake, I know it could be worse, and I'm glad it is not) has me at an impasse.  I am in a creative slump, I am horribly unsure of which way to go, there are threads I cannot grasp.  I know what I have done, and could continue to do; I cannot abandon the field but it is mostly barren at the moment.  I know now what I could do, if only I had the energy, fortitude and most important of all, the imagination to forge a path into pastures new.  Alas, my imagination is choking on the splinters of the present.

This is maddening.  There has to be a way forward, there just has to be.  If only I could find the right path. If only I could write the novel that fuels my dreams.


  1. I'm all full of ideas and good starts, and research, and even several full length novels. But yet I feel the rejection letters preventing me (all four of them) from keeping going.

    I blame plenty on the view outside the window, which trust me, is no inspiration, I'm too busy with my kids/the dog/life to really dedicate myself to The Dream.

    I have to wonder if this is what Hemingway and all the other crazy legends felt like. Because I'm definitely on to the crazy part....

    Chin up, Irish. Fingers at the ready. The masterpiece awaits.

    I was reading last night about choosing to wake up everyday and be happy, not sad/depressed/moody. The 'you're in charge of your day' spiel. Every Day A Friday by Joel Osteen, where research showed people are happier on a Friday. It might be written by a seriously religious person, but he might be on to something here.

    Only you can determine if the glass is half full. Cheers.

  2. I think wintertime makes many things go into hibernation - even inspiration and determination. Spring, however wakes everything up. Here's to Spring! ♥

  3. Oh Mr. Gumbo,in a frustrating, maddening, difficult world, you keep on writing. Writing your frustrations out. Writing out the slump between peaks. The ones I know you will find.

    I am one of those terrible optimists of life, some days, and today as well as many other days, I am rooting for you.

  4. Pass the canteen, brother. And amen.

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