Sunday, March 27, 2011

Have You Seen My Mojo?

My critique group is falling apart. In 2010, we were rolling along full steam, writing, editing, learning, growing. Some were strictly online/email members, but there are three of us who remain tight and chat frequently. They are my best friends—kindred spirits. For the most part, I think we complement each other well. We all have our strengths; what one misses, the others usually sweeps up.
So what’s the major malfunction you ask? There are a few things that have came along and mucked up everything. One member, Elisa, has devoted the entire year to blogging. She has the craziest things happen to her, like an older woman calling her clothing business requesting, AHEM, a penis pump. She’s having a ball writing about her life, but she’s not critiquing or writing anything else—no time. (Check her out at The Crazy Life Of A Writing Mom, she has some great stories to share.)
My friend Angela is also blogging and building her platform. She has really grabbed blogging by the who-haws and learned all the ins and outs—twitter, hootsuite, and all that stuff. That’s great for her blog, but it zapped her time and energy to finish her zombie western. She has an agent shopping her YA contemporary to publishers, so I understand the need to blog and create an online presence. (Whimsy, Writing, and Reading—her blog is great too)
Then there’s me. I’d like to say that I’ve been so busy with book tours and promoting my best seller there’s just no time for the little people anymore, but not a chance. After twenty years with the same company, my husband is out of a job and I’m trying desperately to claw my way back into the workforce before we run out of money. My degree has collected ten years worth of dust while I’ve raised my kids. It isn’t going to be easy to jump back in—will an employer want to hire me after so long? My mind is cluttered with sadness, anxiety, and no voices. For the first time in years, I have no voices in my head.
I’m a former social worker who used to work with severely emotionally disturbed children. One of the things I developed in those kids was coping skills—healthy coping skills. So, here I am dealing with one of the most stressful times of my life and my one comfort—my coping skill—is silent. I miss the chatter in my head, the dreams at night, and the wandering images of my characters as I drive my daughter to school.
My problem has also put a damper on the others in my group. Our steamy romance writer, Krissee, had an agent request the sequel to her first novel. She asked us to tighten it up for her (she just finished it) but my mind was so cloudy, I couldn’t do it. She had her stuff in an agent’s hands and I let her down. Not fun.
Then there’s Wyatt—our newest member. He is totally getting the shaft. He’s a fantastic writer who doesn’t really need too much help, maybe just an extra pair of eyes to catch those darn repeaters, but he must be thinking what the heck was I thinking joining this group?
I feel bad slacking on my commitments, but can’t find my mojo. I miss the days when I marked the heck out of their work and sent it off excited for the day when I’d get a polished copy, tighter dialogue, and fantastic narrative. I loved seeing the progress, the talent. And to think that I had a small part of that is fantastic. I want that back. Even writing this blog, I see sentences I hate, that need work, but don't have the drive to fix them.

Have you ever lost your voices? Lost your mojo? If so, tell me how to get it back?


Tombstone said...

I have plenty of answers for you. However, I will say one thing first. I believe you will come out on top of these trials. Now on to the answers . . . first)don't look for it anywhere near the penis pump described in the blog. Second)You might not find it in Krissee's steamy work either. Third)Sometimes you just won't find it until you keep working as hard as you can and it shows up on your doorstep like a lost puppy. Fourth)Email me and I will write you a list of hiding places. . .

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You have my sympathies, Diana. Maybe you should take some time out for yourself. Go for long walks, take a pen and paper to a cafe, and focus on your own creativity. You won't be able to help others until you've been kind to yourself first. Sometimes, we need to remove ourselves from guilt and anxiety to let ourselves breathe again.

Jennifer Hillier said...

My critique group fell apart too. Life stuff just got in the way, and one by one people drifted off, doing the things they needed to do, which were all more important than writing was at that point in time. It happens. We're still friends, so the support we give each other is just different now, that's all.

As for the mojo, I feel what you're going through. Mine has disappeared more than once... but it always comes back. Yours will too.

Mary said...

You can make it through this. As for finding your mojo-- maybe you need to refresh it. Read some books for fun, watch a movie. Go for a walk. Also, set aside some time to still write-- even if you only get down a sentence or two. It will come back to you.

Jessica A. Briones said...

Don't stop writing! I know what you mean about losing the voices, I've been there but I never stopped writing no matter what was or wasn't in my head. Faith is all we have my dear and you have to believe it will all work out.

Anonymous said...

Things happen girl that suck. You are better than all this stuff holding you back and down. You need to relax a little and stop trying to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. It will all work out if you just dig in those claws and keep going. Love you my friend!

Pk Hrezo said...

That's tough. Life tends to suck it out of us. And there is so much to keep up with. Often I find myself bubbling to a nice stressful boil with it all. But I just hang on to that drive--the one that wants it so bad I can taste it. The one that loves writing more than anything else in the world. ANd that gets me thru it.

RosieC said...

These sorts of things ebb and flow. I always find that stress either increased (to the point of requiring a straight-jacket) or completely mutes the voices in my head. BUT they always come back. You're at a point in which survival comes first, and that requires your attention on job searching and penny pinching. It STINKS, I know, but the voices will com back, and they'll be yelling at you to be heard when they do. They'll miss you, too.

As for the group, I had one that continued strong for a while, and then it kind of died. I've found one or two people from it that I keep in contact with and we exchange over email, but the larger group collapsed. I miss it, having so many people be able to check out your work. When the time comes, though, you'll be able to find people to read for you. They're out there, I promise.

Good luck to you and your family!

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

Keep writing, woman! Thanks for the nice comments.

I'm excited for you to get your latest book done so I can read it ;)

Stacy S. Jensen said...

I'm sorry to hear about all the issues. I moved to a new community and have been searching for a group. I have my fingers crossed that one I visit on Saturday is the one. Best of luck on the job front.

Julia Munroe Martin said...

Ahhhh. So sorry about your husband's job. We went through that from October last year to early January (he had been with the company for 13 years). Three months of stress and anxiety, so I know exactly how you feel. Thank goodness now my husband is working again (though as a consultant for less pay and we cover our own health insurance). I'm a freelance writer, and it has been very tough to concentrate on writing and scrounging up clients in the lousy economy without just feeling like I should get a job (but can't find one anyway, of course). Very very tough. Hang in there. (I've only been blogging for a couple of months, but if you head over to my blog, one of the early ones, called "Solitude" is when my husband finally went back to work. Strangely, that's been hard, too! Sorry for the long reply, but I really feel for you! Take care, Julia

Angela Scott said...

You've got a lot on your plate right now, but I truly believe that once you have a chance to put some of your personal troubles in order, and the unknown becomes less frightening as things come together, you will find your voices again. Excellent writers, such as yourself, will not be able to stay away from the written word for long. It's impossible. I think the voices are silencing themselves so you can concentrate on more pressing issues. They know when to come back--they're just taking a little vacation, but they will come back.

For me, I'm going to step back and not push myself to write. It's not coming and what I am writing is crap. I think taking a break from the computer as a whole will be the best thing for me--a week, maybe. Then I will come back at it with gusto. I promise.

We will get there, my friend. We will get there.

Sun Singer said...

Critique groups have a way of going the way yours did as priorities change. It's always too bad when they cease to work.

The best advice, as many are saying, is to keep writing. If that doesn't work, then you might consider pretending that you don't want your muse to return.

What else excites you and ramps up your creativity? Long walks, going on a bike ride, paddling down a river, volunteering somewhere? Such things will often keep clinical depression from coming to call and then camping out on your doorstep.

I've found that doing intersting things tempts my muse to return much faster than worrying about where she is. It's almost as though when I let myself get down in the dumps too far, she decides I don't want her or need her or deserve her.

But the minute I begin to start finding other creative channels and acting like I don't need a muse any more, she starts sneaking back into my life.

Good luck,


Amie Kaufman said...

What an incredibly tough time to be going through. We're not close, so it seems a little presumptuous to offer much advice, but I'll say this: firstly, set aside your guilt over not being involved in critiquing. It's fine to have perspective and put other things first. Second, snatch just a little time for yourself, go for a walk, then put on your favourite feel-good music and write something that's unrelated to anything else you've been doing. Just write your way back into writing--silly paragraphs, ten minutes without stopping for a moment, whatever works. Just little acts to refill the well a little, because taking care of yourself puts you in a position to take care of others.