On Writing, Productivity and Other Things

I receive an email from my editor. He says I’m not writing as much. He says he noticed a severe decrease in my output.

Severe? How could he measure exactly how much I had fallen off the writing scale? It’s true that these days I’ve been feeling a bit shaken and I’ve had the tendency to just lie back and enjoy a nice cold beer instead of banging my head against the typing machine for who-knows-how-many hours.

Lately it’s been like some habit I’ve slipped into. The mind isn’t willing anymore. It’s finally awakening to the obstacles and challenges of the task. Writing is tough. It’s hard stuff and it can knock you down easily.

Now I’ve always been one to take a good hit and get back up from it – I even enjoy it at times. It gets my guts all excited and swirling and pumps the hell out of me. I get a good kick out of being pushed around and taken down, and I find even more pleasure at licking my lips when I get back up and see the cold blank disbelieving stares in front of me.

But now there’s not much kick left in me. My editor says the wind’s been knocked out of me or puts it in another fancy one of his terms. But lines are just lines to me now. I seem to have lost the urge to write about people, about love, about misery, about tragedy, about life.

I seem to have lost the excitement to write about women and even meet them. Get slapped on the cheek one or two times by one or two of them. Take on some of that feistiness brought by the other sex.

These things don’t seem to be intact anymore. It’s like that time in your life when you’re discovering yourself and asking all types of questions: you find that you’re trimming major parts of yourself. Parts you thought will stay there forever but you suddenly realize it’s easier to let them go.

Now this is not the case here. Just to be clear to you and myself (my thoughts have a tendency of their own to confuse me sometimes) I’m not giving up on writing. But it’s not coming out as easily as before. Now it seems constricted and, dare I say it, a bit forced.

And maybe that’s been happening since the craft took a new form in my life – a more serious dimension. Now it’s being plagued by form and content and deadlines and rhythm and other unnecessary terms that take away from the spontaneity of writing.

When did that start to happen? When did it slip so fast from under my nose that I couldn’t stop it? Suddenly I feel like a sellout. I’ve even told my editor and my publisher that. I told them, listen, you’ve made me a monster, you’ve made me a sellout. And of course these words were greeted lightheartedly and answered with a typical ‘genius! What a reflection! What spoken eloquence!’ along with a pat on the back because they just want to keep selling. And for them to do that I should keep on producing.

Well, shit. Maybe I don’t want to produce anymore. Maybe I came into this thing to get away from the strain of production and social scaling that seem to be wiping all the creative juices from our minds. Maybe I should go back to writing jack shit. Maybe that’ll fend them off a bit and make them lose interest in me for a while.

It’s been on my mind for some time but now it seems much easier and persuasive on paper. But then again, most things are.

I type a reply to my editor, print it out, sign it with a smear of alcohol at the bottom, scan it and send it to him.

There will be no writing today. Not ‘productive’ writing, at least. He’ll have to find someone else who can speak genius and bottle eloquence for him. This writer’s done for today. His mind’s retired and the rest of him is filling up with booze.

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