The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible - Vladimir Nabokov

There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you - Zora Neale Hurston

04 May 2010

Going Luckless

I've always been able to feel "the luck groove" as I call it. It's sensing the right time to leave the house for a walk so I avoid the rain and run into an interesting person in the park to chat to yet still make it to breakfast before they stop serving at 10:30. I thrive on that feeling. It's how I win pool games. But I also know there's a universal law that luck never holds. That's why I've lost as many pool games as I've won.

When I feel the needle bump out of the groove and hear that screech like fingernails on chalkboard (those of you old enough to have owned a turntable and seen chalkboards will know what I mean), I choose to lay low. I putter and carry on with activities set in motion when the luck was there. I've been wrestling with a new computer, setting up a home network, promoting my husband's art exhibition, researching IVF, learning to read guitar Tab, and troubleshooting my Western blots at work, but the hardest thing has been keeping my writing and revisions from grinding to a halt. I know its not working. Everything I write is crap.

My writing is too important to me to rely on luck, moods, or the weather. I want to perform whether I'm in a comfy chair with my favorite coffee mug and writing tiara or scribbling with a leaky pen on a bumpy bus ride. I've been good about pressing on through the ups and downs for the last two years (since I fully committed myself to this life), but the last month I've stumbled. I'm not feeling the luck or much of anything. The writing mood starts to build then drifts away. I keep going with the edits, but now everything I've done before looks like it needs to be redone. Have I accomplished anything? Am I the Sisyphus of writing?

I work on my manuscript for at least an hour everyday, aiming for 500 new or revised words. It's agony, but I do it (most of the time). I'm too stubborn to give up. And now, here I am posting again! I've redecorated the blog and put up a photo without a speck of cat hair in sight (it took a while to find one). I'm feeling the first trickles of returning luck, so I hope the writing fever comes back too. If not, I'll learn to do without, because, even when the writing aches, I'm happier with it than without it.

What about you? How do you live without the luck groove? What keeps you going when the writing doesn't work? Are you an optimist or just plain stubborn?


  1. I think I'm a little bit of both - a stubborn optimist :) I don't get tons of time for my writing - so I just keep plugging away. There's always tons to do with the ms, so I just pick and choose as the mood strikes.

    Love the new blog look and the new pic! You must have changed them when my laptop was down and out for those few weeks. Looks good!

  2. Plain stubborn for me! Like Jemi above, I don't get a lot of time for writing, so have to plug away whenever I get. Sometimes this makes for a heap of revisions! But I look at it as at least I have something to revise. :)

    And when the groove comes on? Watch me fly! I live for those moments in writing.

    But I know what you mean about feeling the luck thing. It is so cool that you are in tune with it - sometimes I am, sometimes I wish I listened harder!

  3. Somethings I'm stubborn about, some I'm not. Good luck with your writing. Like the new look of the blog and the photo (but cat hair is okay too). :)


  4. I'm stubborn. :) And, I think, resourceful about forcing my writing into my day.

    I love your profile picture! See, you should have done that ages ago. :)

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  5. I was getting some Amelie Poulain vibes while reading this post, Laurel :))

  6. I've been lucky enough to avoid such a funk so far, but reading about other writers going through it will no doubt prepare me when it does pay a visit.

    Thank you.

  7. Jemi--I like that: "stubborn optimist"! It's the best way to be.
    I should try picking bits of my ms to work on depending on mood. Great idea. As it is, I'm stubborn and force myself to edit when I'd rather be writing something new.

    Jayne--Sounds like you're a bit of an optimist too! It *is* good to have something to revise at least. And I know what you mean about listening harder--the luck comes when you're aware and ready to act on it, but when we start ignoring little opportunities, we lose it.

    Mason--Thanks! I think cat hair is definitely ok too, and I kept my furry babies as the profile pic :)

    Elizabeth--I can tell from all your posts you're stubborn :) You're my role model for pushing through no matter what!

    Glad you like the photo. Showing my face wasn't so scary afterall.

    Dezmond--I can so relate to Amelie!

    DL--Can I borrow some of your luck? :) I hope the funk continues to pass you by, but I know you'll do just fine if it shows up.

  8. hehehe cat hair! A meal in this house isn't complete without a portion of cat hair. I think your photo is beautiful. Good luck with your writing. I know you will succeed. XX

  9. Niki--The cat hair adds extra protein I think. Yum!
    And thanks!

  10. Oh yes, I feel the same way. I want to be able to make the words happen, no matter what else is going on. It's tough going. Some days I fly through my writing time and curse that I don't have more. Other days I'm anxiously checking the clock. My e-mail. Toughing through it is your best weapon!

  11. I can't believe how many things you have going on at once. And, as I just lost my first go-around at this comment (which was perfectly worded, I must add), I'll make this quick: if you are doing a million things, they won't all be good. Your bad writing--though it's never truly as bad as it seems to you--is probably attributable to your split focus.

    Ok, but wow! You are Superwoman right now! I applaud that. And I'm thinking of you with all of this on your plate. Especially the IVF.

    I like the new, nearly-cat free design.


  12. Portia--You're so right about the toughing it out. It's the only way to get through the clock-watching days. I flew through 1200 words yesterday, so I hope the grrove is back!

    Michele--I do tend to split my focus way too much and get bored easily, but when the writing is working I obsess over it and don't do anything else, even hardly eat. It's when it's not working that I'm glad I have other distractions.

  13. I'm intrigued... in awe of your 'luck groove'. I'd love one of those. Do you belong to a writing critique group? My group keeps me going when I feel my resolve slipping. Good luck with rediscovering your 'groove'.

  14. Thanks Rosalind. I'd love to join a critique group, but I haven't started looking yet. I'm the sort that likes to stumble about figuring things out for myself--it's funner that way--but I want that sort of feedback before I think about publishing. Maybe it would be better to have the support now?

  15. Sometimes writing is just like that unfortunately. I'm a hopeless optimist though. My key is that I don't revise until my entire first draft is done. That way I don't over think things and sabotage the work. If I have thoughts about something I think I'll want to change, I jot them down but I don't edit at that point. It helps!