Writer Blocked

I was angry last week.  For pretty much the whole week.

Now, this was new territory for me.  'Oh, but everyone gets angry every once in a while,' I hear you say.  Sure.  You stub your toe, someone eats the brownie you were saving for later, the dog pees on the carpet, and anger happens.  Usually, however, when I get angry, I also get upset.  I cry.  I don't think about the person or thing that has made me angry, but only about myself and how upset I am that it has happened, and how silly it is of me to get upset over these little things.

Last week wasn't like that.

Last week, everyone and everything was to blame.  It wasn't about me.  It was all about them, and how wrong and annoying and stupid they all were.  I didn't cry (okay, I cried once).  I ranted.  I fumed.  I stood on a mountain of superiority and shouted at all the lower beings within earshot.  It was their fault.  They were to blame.

And what were they to blame for?  The fact that I wasn't getting any work done.

I'm still in the first stages of editing my book, you see.  My editor has given me a list of things to revise in my manuscript.  Not a long list.  Most of the things on there would take all of ten seconds to fix.  Easy.

Only it wasn't easy last week, because the dirty dishes in the kitchen taunted me, and the ironing pile threatened to collapse over my laptop, and people, people, people kept demanding my attention.  Carmel Bird, in her book Dear Writer, says, 'You have the choice of a clean house or a finished story.  The choice is yours.'  I'll bet she didn't have a full laundry basket, an empty fridge and guests coming round when she wrote it, though.  It was like trying to work while a thousand things screamed at me non-stop.  So I got angry, and as the week progressed, I only got angrier.

(Excuse me a moment while I go and eat a cupcake I made last week.  Boy, was I angry, making those cupcakes!)

The strange thing is, I enjoyed it.  Raging gives you an absolute high, one I don't experience often due to all the blubbering and feeling sorry for myself.  This time I could enjoy the energy my anger was giving me, and use that energy to rant even louder.  It should be noted here, for honesty's sake, that it didn't occur to me to use that energy to get all my writing and housework done.  I just fed the anger.

It turns out, though, that I only had a week to enjoy it.  It ended when the week did, on Sunday night.  It was then that I told my partner, as I sat in a room full of the laundry he'd done that day and ate the beautiful meal he'd made for me, that I didn't think he'd been pulling his weight around the house lately.

Yep.  I was that far gone.

And do you know what he did then?  Once he'd done all the washing up?  He gave me a pair of dancing shoes he'd ordered off the internet for me.

I was so ashamed of myself that I sat down on the carpet and cried and cried.  My anger had taken me too far; it had produced nothing except to show me what an ungrateful, lazy sod I was.  The only way I could comfort myself was by reasoning that I wasn't always like this (good God, I hope I'm not always like this), and that something I hadn't identified yet was upsetting me.

Well, it was the fact that I wasn't being the Editing Queen I thought I would be - that much wasn't hard to work out - but why wasn't I?  The changes my editor had suggested weren't hard, were they?  Why wasn't I done yet?  What was keeping me away from my laptop?

I think I've worked it out now.  It's the fact that I don't like my book while I'm making these changes.  It's a mess.  There are red lines and words everywhere (thanks very much, Track Changes), half-baked character development, missing plot links - it's a bad book at the moment.  It's worse than before I started editing it.  It's nowhere near what a published book should be.

The thing is, I've only just realised that it's not supposed to be like a published book yet.  I'm still working on it.  I thought, when I started editing, that every change I made would make my book shine that little bit more, and I was gutted when it didn't, but it doesn't work like that.  You know how, when you tidy up a room, it always looks worse before it looks better, because there are clothes and books and papers and seventy thousand other things flying around the place?  That's my book at the moment.  It ain't pretty.  But it also ain't done yet.

So this week I've come back to my computer, and I'm systematically working my way through the mess.  In doing so, I'm making more of a mess, but making an effort to see the mess for what it is: progress.

And you know what?  I feel better.