It seems that at least once in every writing project I run out of ideas, ambition and confidence. Right now I am working on two different projects at once, or pretending to, and the one I thought was a real long shot is steaming along (all right, creeping along), but the other one is completely mired. At times like this I begin to wonder why I bother with writing at all. And it’s not really writing, it’s more like the dog sitting there staring at his empty food dish.
It’ll pass eventually, or at least it always has before. The thing is, if I give in now it will only get stronger, I made that mistake once and my dry spell turned into a year-long drought. It seems a legitimate question, though. Why do we continue to tilt at this particular windmill?
I have a good friend who is a musician. Joe D is an extraordinarily gifted composer, keyboard player and vocalist, and we have had long conversations about why it is that we do what we do. As usual, it’s easier to see the answer to the other guy’s predicament, all I really had to do was go to one of his shows and listen. On stage and in full roar, Joe D and the Thieves are easily the equal to any live band I’ve heard, anywhere, at any time. That does not change if there are more people there, or fewer. The performance is the thing. That’s who he is.
Writers have it a little tougher because there is no real parallel to a live show. Book tours are horrible, there are certain activities which should never be conducted in public and reading one’s own prose, out loud, is one of those. And besides, reading the piece is not the performance that means anything, writing it is. That means I will always perform for an audience of one, and right about now that audience is not interested.