Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Choking on my Brain

I think it was pretty clear, since my last post, I am feeling a bit anxious. A bit unwell and especially a bit stuck. The old Writer's Block. Now, I wrote a blog post ages and ages ago, that I decided to reread recently. a post simply titled "Major Blockage".
In that, I made a pertinent and potent claim about Writer's Block. I said that, whilst we may see it as some unknowable force that most writers will face and overcome in their own enigmatic way, it's not actually that esoteric. Writer's Block is really just Fear, and that fear manifests in an inability to write.
Just as a fear of the darkness will cause you to back away from the shadows and freeze at the threshold of the light, writer's block causes you to stare at the blank page, without stepping into that story.

The solution, I opined, was to discover the root of the fear so as to overcome it.

The reason I bring all of this up now is because, I currently want to write. I would enjoy sitting down and writing up a tale or two, it helps me to unwind. But, I can't because of writer's block. And worse, even though I know the cause, I don't know what's causing that cause . . .

Choke /chōk/ v.t. 1. To stop the breath of by squeezing or obstructing the windpipe; strangle; stifle. 2. To stop by or as if by strangling or stifling: The sudden wind choked his words. 3. To stop by filling; obstruct; clog: Grease choked the drain. 4. To suppress (a feeling, emotion, etc.) (often followed by back or down): I managed to choke back my tears. 5. To fill chock-full: The storeroom was choked with furniture. 6. To seize (a log, felled tree, etc.) with a chain, cable, or the like, so as to facilitate removal. 7. To enrich the fuel mixture of (an internal-combustion engine) by diminishing the air supply to the carburetor. 8. Sports To grip (a bat, racket, or the like) farther than usual from the end of the handle; shorten one's grip on (often followed by up). ♦v. 9. To suffer from or as from strangling or suffocating: He choked on a piece of food. 10. To become obstructed, clogged, or otherwise stopped: The words choked in her throat. ♦n 11. The act or sound of choking. 12. A mechanism by which the air supply to the carburetor of an internal-combustion engine can be diminished or stopped. 13. Machinery Any mechanism that, by blocking a passage, regulates the flow of air, gas, etc.

That's a little convoluted, basically, I am anxious and that's causing me to struggle when it comes to writing, but I don't know what I am so anxious about. The problem with having a mental illness is that it's called a mental illness for a reason. Sure, there may be a real, tangible cause for your depression, PTSD, schizophrenia or even anxiety; perhaps it's genetic, perhaps someone hurt you in a bad way, or you witnessed something no one should see. But, the reason we call it an illness or a disorder is because the cause itself is often not logical.
I mean, I have mentioned before my automatonophobia, which often manifests in a fear of mannequins. Now, it's a simple example, but a phobia is only called a phobia when it is an irrational fear. If mannequins were known for emitting poisoned gas, or spontaneously coming to life to murder people, then I would not have a phobia, I would have a rational, logical reason to stay away.
But, I don't - mannequins can't hurt you, and I know that - there's no reason to be scared of mannequins in the way that I am. Despite this logical and rational knowledge, I still don't feel comfortable around them, because my fear is not logical or rational.

Similarly, my anxiety isn't logical. I would love to point to a tiger in my backyard, a damoclean sword hanging over my bed or an alien implant under my skin and say "Oh, that's what's making me feel this way. Fantastic, let's deal with this".
But because that's not the case, I can't.
I don't know the reason for my anxiety because there isn't a reason for my anxiety. That's not to say that it's caused spontaneously, something is causing it, it's not magical - but, it's clearly not something logical, otherwise I could deal with it logically. No, this is something emotional.

Because I want to get better, I have booked a session with my psychologist. I've already seen her once, yesterday, but because of my tiredness and my inability to focus I was late and so we didn't get to do as much as either of us hoped.

The problem for me, though, is that I have already decided to post at least once a month. I don't want to risk missing a posting date just because I'm waiting to get better. But, I am stuck.
See, another thing I said in that post about Writer's Block is that it's stupid to try to write without an idea - that's not writer's block, that's just ignorance (or perhaps arrogance). And that's not only something I preach, but also something I practice. So, I have quite a few ideas. Hell, I have too many ideas . . .
  • There's a story about a girl talking with a suspicious cat.
  • I have an idea inspired by my ex about a magical artefact that controls the weather.
  • One idea was about kids investigating a mansion that has been condemned
  • Another inspired idea was a story about a talking bear.
  • I have one concept of a teen party interrupted by a voice from the television.
  • Recently a let's play inspired an idea for a story about a trapped pizza delivery guy.
  • I even started developing an idea about a mysterious tree in a cemetery.
These are all stories I can actually write. I know the major beats of the story, for all but one of those I could write it tomorrow if I was in my right mind . . . I would be able to, if it wasn't for this writer's block.
Because it's literally just writing, sitting down and putting down the words. Because every time I have tried to write, all I've done is developed ideas. Three of those ideas are fresh and new, because I tried to sit down and write, and ended up brainstorming a new story. I can still think like a writer, I can still have ideas. I'm just struggling to actually write them.
Then of course, there's Duke Forever. I haven't forgotten, I have been developing the plot for that (since the original plot wasn't fully developed). And I have my Goosebumps-inspired series, I was trying to work on that recently as well.
And that YouTube series I was talking about in my last post. . .

Y'know, it's like I am choking on my own ideas. Like, I have so many ideas and I can't write them . . . that sounds familiar, doesn't it?
It is, because I wrote about something similar on this blog. I called it "Three Stooges Syndrome". Having so many ideas and being unable to write because one idea leads the rest to come tumbling out as well.
At first, I thought that's what this was too. Just like those three stooges trying to push through a door and getting in each other's way, when I tried to force out one idea, all the rest were getting in the way. But, perhaps that's not it at all . . .

The reason I have given this post a title that is kind of gross, is because I think it illustrates my point pretty well. My own mind in my throat, it's something that I have done to myself. Not consciously, but there is definitely something I am doing to get in the way. After all, I can write "words", I'm doing that now, I'm blogging. So, clearly, there's something about fiction in particular that is causing me pause.

I've tried to write this post a few times, and each time I came up with a different theory as to why I can't write. Perhaps my dullened mind is unable to choose one story out of the many - the words can't flow because none of the stories stand out to me anymore, in this new veil of grey.
Perhaps I am scared because writing for me is fun. I can't even write a minor story because I like writing stories (I've even compared it to a kind of drug), and writing now would sour the sweetness of that pleasure.
Or perhaps, the looming shadow of the novel I want to work on is slowing me down, because the thought of writing that now seems like too much work, but working on anything else feels like I've abandoned it. I'm half-way through, but not yet complete, and my mindset sees that as a "glass half-empty" either way.

However, self-reflecting on all of this, to me, just shows that I still have no fucking idea why I can't write. I am a story-writer, I am good at making sense out of a plot. The hero has a problem, he charges in to combat it and he solves it. Plot resolved.
I am good at ironing out complex issues and making into a story.
But this isn't like that. It's not like a conflict that I can sort out and solve, it's more like I'm sinking underwater in the middle of the ocean. I can't get myself out, and trying to do so is just wearing me out. I need someone else to throw me a life preserver . . . a deus ex machina.
It's exactly the kind of thing that makes a bad story, a character getting saved by something outside of their control. Although, in my case, perhaps it's more like a chekov's gun since I've talked about this before. I dunno.

Anyway, that's all for now. I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I'll be getting some professional help. I wish you all the best, and I hope you spend the intervening time taking care of yourselves.