Thursday, January 13, 2011

How Deep is Your Rut?

I am currently in the throes of what is shaping up to be the longest creative dry spell of my life. Honestly, I feel like I've been bathing in local anaesthesia lately; the dizzying highs and wrenching lows seemed to have been replaced by creamy middles.

Are creamy middles the death of creativity? Can one be content and still crank out the goods on a regular basis? Do I have to wallow in misery in order to produce?

Unfortunately, or fortunately, or whatever, obtaining contentedness requires engaging in some level of routine. And engaging in routine means embracing a degree of monotony. Not that there's anything wrong with a little monotony. But I'm kind of an experience-based writer. I'm not so good with the getting-in-touch-with-my-deep, inner-Kandy and am more interested in taking something I went through and attempting to make it funny. When you're waking up at the same time every morning, eating the same thing for breakfast, alternating between the same 5 pairs of office pants every week, driving the same route to work, answering the same email requests that come in every day, coming home at the same time, working out in the same spot in your home, eating dinner sometime between Cash Cab and the Simpsons every night, tucking your child in at 9pm, and then slipping in to a coma in bed while watching the same Family Guy reruns on the bedroom TV, it becomes nearly impossible to come up with fresh and exciting ways to write about this and still make it seem funny and interesting.

Because it's really neither funny nor interesting. It

WHICH IS GREAT. I wouldn't trade my life now for anything resembling the nightmare that was my 20s. So full of ridiculous self-induced drama and stupidity. Yeah, maybe my little anecdotes were better back then, maybe I could spin a helluva yarn based on the 50 retarded things I did every single day, but I was a trainwreck. I wouldn't go back there if you paid me a billion dollars and promised me a back rub.

So what do I write about now? Do I become part of the throng of "Mommy Bloggers" who fill their virtual pages with stories about how awesome their kids are, how awful their kids are, how glad they are that they're mommies, how miserable they are being mommies? Do I start meting out my life in increments of kiddie bowel movements, of what my kid eat and didn't eat, of wacky outfits and hilarious moments of unplanned lack of supervision (a la S*** My Kid Ruined)? Do I post pictures of the brilliant comic books Madeline has been cranking out with shocking consistency? Do I complain about how she still sometimes whines like a 3 year old and how it sends me to a dark and ugly place I'm not ready to talk about yet? Do I talk trash about her classmates' parents, my ex, all other parents in general who are nothing like me and do lots of stupid things that I don't agree with?

Do I rehash the mental disorders of my youth, or my previous struggles with addiction, just to give readers something to chew on?

Do I relate horror stories about my job? Because THAT'S a smart thing to be doing these days if you have a career death wish.

Do I go on and on about how I wish I could go back to school, how I wish I was a better songwriter, how I wish I could play the one instrument I can sorta/kinda play much better than I do now?

Do I give a daily debriefing on how my struggle to lose weight has been going, including the obligatory list of foods consumed, calories counted and minutes exercised?

Do I gush about how much I love my significant other and how I feel like I hit the lottery every single day?

Do I talk about how overwhelmed I am with love and happiness, so much so that I don't know what to do with myself?

Do I discuss how my daily routine feels so much like a hamster wheel that I could cry just thinking about it, and that I would consider a felonious act just for the opportunity to go on vacation?

Do I write about what I want to, with no fear, about any topic I choose, or do I continue to censor myself because of who may read this?

And, most important to me above all else, would anyone read it if I did?

Because if nobody cares, what's the point? No writer writes in a vacuum. If a hack tells you he writes for himself, he's a big fat double-crossing liar. I'm doing it all for you, readers. All 3 of you.

So tell me. What do YOU want to read?


  1. First off, there's a lot more than 3 of us who EAGERLY await your next missive - whatever the topic. I would wade through your transcription of the Saugerties Phone Directory because I KNOW there would be a fictitious name or number included that would make me chuckle. You couldn't resist it. Your inner Imp would demand it. So...when real life settles into a doldrum, leaving you bereft of any juicy slice-of-life topics to write about...make some shit up! Your creative juices will pour out and all 3 of us will be sated with another rib-tickler. ;-)

  2. At the risk of coming across like a blue-ribbon kiss-ass, I'd personally like to read all of the above. I've been following you around the web lo these many years because I simply love your writing. Whatever the subject at which you choose to level your scrutiny -- be it grocery store hijinks, profound ontological meditation or a recap of the local Pinewood Derby -- I always thoroughly enjoy the result. And so I say write whatever strikes your authorial funny bone. Write whatever leaves you smiling when you finish. But most importantly, write whatever keeps you writing. Take it from the guy who considers one new blog entry every three months "a particularly fruitful quarter" -- nothing is more important than that.

    Except keeping me happy. Of course.

  3. Nice meta-blog, Kandy. I might be getting ready to write one, myself.

    Personally, I want you to blog more about your days in Alaska between 1992 and 1995. You had some brilliant and physically attractive friends in those happy times, and I'd love to read more about your adventures with them.

    Failing that: I can't wait to read how you escape from your rut.

    Failing that: Dirty Limmericks.