Yesterday I was browsing Netflix Instant and I stumbled across an A&E documentary series that demanded to be watched. It’s called Hoarders; perhaps you’ve heard of it? Each episode documents the cleanup/intervention of one or two compulsive hoarders, showing their incredibly hostile reactions to people trying to throw away the garbage that has utterly consumed their homes. It doesn’t go for cheap, exploitative finger-pointing, but tries to get into the head of someone who’s life is run by their obsessions.

It’s kind of cathartic to watch. “At least I’m not like those people,” you say, watching a woman break down in tears because she needs to throw away the rotted pumpkins on her floor. Yet, the longer I watched, the more I identified with those people. In one of the episodes I watched, a young man with clinical OCD had become convinced that if he threw away any of the dog hair clogging his carpet, he was directly shortening the lifespan of his dog. He loved his dog, of course, and so even while he was telling the show’s host, “This is stupid, this is so stupid,” throwing away that dog hair took a physical effort.

There are times–more times than I like to admit–where writing is the same way for me. I consider myself a good writer, and I think that I could make a career out of it. But when I actually sit down to write, the idea of not writing well paralyzes me with fear. I don’t mean failing at writing, I just mean writing poor paragraphs and scenes. That’s stupid, right? Obviously your writing is never perfect, and the earlier the draft, the less perfect the writing. The only way you fail at writing is not to write, and yet…it’s damned hard to start typing. And then I feel guilty that I haven’t started yet, and that starts a this downward spiral.

I don’t like to complain too much on the blog here; I feel like nobody wants to listen to me whine. Yet, I think this is literally by biggest obstacle to getting published and getting a career, and if there’s any chance that airing it to the world can help be overcome it, then I’m willing to tolerate some uninterested people.

You can’t tell a depressed person, “Just cheer up.” Likewise, telling myself, “Aw, just write,” doesn’t seem likely to help. I’m not sure what the solution is, here. I’m going to try to write a thousand words a day over the next week, just to get back into gear. It’s always hardest to start writing when I stop for awhile. Then, we’ll see. And hopefully, next post, I’ll have some better news.

Oh, and I don’t want to sound like, “wah wah, my life is hard,” because it really isn’t. So, don’t expect these types of posts to suddenly become the norm.


Also, within the next two weeks, you’re going to see some changes around here. I’m finally going to be adding such novelties as a blogroll and list of links, and more than likely some pretty major formatting changes. I’m not sure what’s going to happen exactly, but I do know this: you won’t want to miss it.

2 responses to “Compulsions

  1. I was wondering why I wasn’t seeing more blog posts. Do you know that there is a correlation between creativity and crazy? This is my psych major self and my been in therapy a long time self talking here. And I know of what I speak. They aren’t sure which is the cart and which the horse. Is the stress of trying to compose a brilliant bit of prose a cause for depression, or, is depression a cause for that white page looking like a slice of death? I believe it’s more of a closed loop, feeding on itself like some strange, literary ouroboros. Cyd totally trashed my High Fantasy novel. It’s not just what she said it was how. The what was good feedback and led to change, the how was hurtful and I went into a tailspin and couldn’t write for 3 months. I felt gutted. Finally I came back to it, applied the what of her notes and survived the how. I tossed over 10,000 words of garbage. The new novel is better, tighter, makes more sense, characters are braver, situations tougher, pain more real. But it cost my friend. It cost a lot. You have my empathy.

    • Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it. And I definitely know about the connection between creativity and crazy. All creative people are just kind of weird. Of course, if I was totally normal I’d be a claims adjuster with 2.5 children, a mortgage, and $20,000 in credit card debt, so…you know. But, as always, I appreciate the sympathy.

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