By Bruce Blake
As I sit down to write this post, I feel not unlike what I imagine a man with a drinking problem must experience as he gets up in front of a roomful of strangers for the first time to announce he has a problem. I’m not given to making personal admissions over the internet too often (unless I’m gushing about my kids or my wife), but I feel it’s time to get something off my chest.
I’ve faced a number of significant personal challenges over the better part of the last year, and I’ve let it come between me and my writing.
Those of you who know me fairly well are likely not surprised; after publishing five novels last year, I have yet to publish a single word this year. While I wrote the entire first draft of a novel in about two weeks last year, I find myself struggling to put fingers to keyboard to produce anything meaningful.
But this isn’t a post about writers’ block, because that isn’t my issue. Ideas flow freely through my mind, scenarios to be played out on the page at some later date.
It’s also not a post about motivation, at least not directly. No, until I hurt my back, I didn’t know what it was.
I better qualify this by pointing out this was not a serious injury, In fact, I have no idea how it is I went to bed one night feeling fine and woke up a few hours later with pain so bad I couldn’t stay prone. For our purposes, though, the physical cause of my discomfort is moot. The important part of this event is that it prompted a visit to the chiropractor.
I’ve been to chiropractors before, but not in the couple of years since we relocated, so I found myself at the home office of someone new to me–a chiropractor my wife has used and highly recommended. When I arrived and began talking with her, I found out why my open-minded, alternative medicine-loving wife liked her so much: she is not just a cracker-of-backs, but also an emotional healer.
Let me rephrase that to make sure I’ve put it across correctly: like channeling Danny Aiello in Jacob’s Ladder, she not only deals with the physical aspect of the cause of back issues, but also delves into the emotional cause, as well.
At this point, I assume a portion of the blog’s readership is thinking ‘wow, cool’ while another faction is considering finding a post a little less touchy-feely and a bit more writing-oriented. If I told you her method for discerning the underlying emotional issue involved having me hold up my left arm and her pushing down on it while having me say things aloud, that group would likely go running for the hills, but stick with me because I’m getting to the point.
What came out of her assessment was that my back pain was at least partially caused by my lack of writing (and my feelings around it), but then she dug deeper, and we came up with the reason my previously voluminous well seemed so difficult to draw water from.
We all start writing for the same reason: we love to write. For serious writers, it’s not really a choice, but something we have to do, like breathing. But there’s been significant change in the world of writers over the past few years; with the advent of easy self-publishing, writers can actually write with the knowledge that their work will be published, and that readers will consume those works, for better or for worse.
And that knowledge can change a writers attitude.
The first part of my time away from the computer was necessary–some family concerns and starting back at a regular job demanded my attention and a break from creating worlds. What didn’t need to happen was the length of time I’ve been away. What transpired is that I got more concerned about looking at the sales reports on Amazon, reading reviews, thinking about how to promote myself and my works on social media, and overwhelmed by the sheer number and cost of potential places to advertise.
Somewhere amongst that jumble of business, I’d forgotten about the joy of being a writer, the fulfillment of creating a character and laying out a story. But thanks to the help of a guardian angel-esque chiropractor who, in the space of forty-five minutes took away my back pain and gave me insight, I can see where I’ve gone astray.
Am I the only one this has happened to? How many other writers read the blogs and hear stories about authors like Hugh Howey, Russell Blake, HM Ward and others, and lose sight of why they write in the first place? Perhaps I should start passing out my chiropractor’s number, maybe even start a support group.
My name is Bruce, and I had a problem, but I’ve rediscovered me raison d’etre, my passion for writing…no problem.
What about you? Do you still do it for love?
Bruce Blake is the author of 8 novels. HIs back is feeling much better and he can’t wait to write 8 more.