If I were a Catholic I could seek reconciliation and do my penance with a few Hail Marys and Our Fathers.
Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 30 days since I last worked on my novel. And when I did write I violated the rule of Show, Don’t Tell, not to mention indulging in too much backstory. I’ve head hopped and have created unsympathetic characters. For these and all my other writing sins, I am truly sorry.
I imagine there must be a tremendous feeling of relief that comes with a sense of forgiveness and starting with a clean slate, much like tackling a neglected novel and finally getting it put to rights.
If I were an alcoholic, I could stand up at an AA meeting [or a GRW chapter meeting] and admit:
Hi. My name is Marilyn Baron and I’m a blocked writer. It’s been 30 days since the start of my current dry spell. I’m parched and I really need a cool burst of inspiration.
But I’m neither Catholic nor an alcoholic. So what’s a Jewish writer to do? When in doubt, I can always call on that age-old standby, Jewish Guilt. Luckily, you don’t have to be Jewish to experience Jewish guilt.
What do you do when your novel starts talking back?
Here’s how it works. You start hallucinating to the point where your novel starts talking back to you.
Your novel: “You haven’t written a word in 30 days. You haven’t called. You haven’t come to see me. Don’t mind me. I’ll just sit over here in a dark, drafty corner. Go ahead, throw me out like a worn-out shoe. I’m not important. I’m just your novel.”
You: “Don’t give me a guilt trip. I carried you around for nine long months. I was in labor for days. I gave birth to you, so don’t tell me I don’t care about you.”
Then you just have to forgive yourself and move on. It reminds me of working with my personal trainer at the gym I just joined. I hate the gym. To me, exercise is a dirty word, but my daughter convinced me to join with her so I’m slogging it out. That personal trainer really puts me through my paces. I don’t like going, but I’ve run out of excuses. I’m just going to have to buckle down and work out. And buckle down and write.
Guilt is a great motivator. Guilt can really get you going. It can help you get back in the game. It can help you finish a page, a chapter, and then a complete manuscript. So don’t feel bad about feeling guilty. Embrace your guilt. Don’t throw your manuscript out like a worn-out shoe. Listen to your novel when it starts talking back to you. Start writing again.
What do you have to feel guilty about (in your writing world)? Unburden yourself or just drop by and wish me Happy Birthday!
This post is dedicated to Jewish mother's everywhere.