I worked a 9 to 5 job for years in Florida. It was rewarding, important work that ate up all my energy and emotional bandwidth, but was worth losing myself in. Then I moved and then Covid happened, and I've been doing freelance stuff on the side, mostly grant writing, some consulting, and a lot of wishing things had ended differently with my last employer. I moved home to Southern California to be closer to my family, but that wasn't seen as a valid reason for leaving. Bridges burned, friendships died overnight, and people I'd once shared triumphs and tragedies with for years were suddenly happy to see I didn't land on my feet.
This sort of thing will fuck with a person.
I tried to take up writing again, failed, tried again, failed again, abandoned Twitter and threw myself into finding another calling only to fail at that too. My wife makes enough money for both of us to live on, but that's not what I want even if she's kinda pleased with having me be a housewife/writer again. Okay, so how do I remember how to write again?
Not a rhetorical question. I'm seriously asking.
I spent most of this week trying to turn a writing journal prompt into a short story and ended up thoroughly in my own head about the whole thing. Was it a cute idea with no legs? Did I mistake an exercise for an actual story? What clunky bullshit was I covering up by trying to make it funny? And most of all, how does it end?
That's a big one for me: I always know how my stories end before I start.
My next idea involved re-reading some of my past stuff to see if I could hear my own voice again, but it wasn't there. I picked An Undead Grift for Christmas and Ravens from the Ashes for the exercise. At the end of both, I was left feeling like I was good once upon a time, but I didn't see how it all fit together anymore. The last book I published was Pintor Noche in 2017, which means the last time I wrote fiction of any real quality was at least five years ago since there's about a year lag on completion of writing to publication and that's if everything moves fast.
What changes in us to lose what we were?
Because I was a writer. I lived, breathed, and swam through writing for the better part of a decade and felt myself glow from the creativity I was a part of. I feel like I've been cutoff from the feed somehow. The cosmic inspiration or zeitgeist or collective unconscious for the Jungians.
I'm Steve Sax and I don't even know who that is.
He's a baseball player, or was, I know that much. From before I was born, I think. But there was a TV show, I can't even remember which one, where someone talked about Steve Sax who had made the throw from shortstop or second to first base thousands of times, but then, suddenly, he couldn't do it anymore. He straight up forgot how to throw. Short throws, long throws, throws to any point on the diamond were all off the table for a guy whose entire job was catching a ball and throwing it somewhere accurately. I can't remember how the story ended in the show or movie, and I have no idea what became of Steve Sax, but that's been weirdly stuck in my head for months now. I forgot how to throw.
I've got the yips or the shanks or some other sport metaphor. Dick fingers? Is that one?
The question now is do I fight it and try to get back to making the routine throws so I can feel comfortable enough to try the harder ones? Or do I hang it up and do...whatever Steve Sax ended up doing instead of baseball? Is there advice for clearing up the yippy shanks?