The Well

I’m writing this in mid-November. In ten days, I will be self-publishing my sixth novel, Splatterfest. I published Conquest, my first novel, in March of 2019. That’s six novels in two years.

Ten days ago, I had my oldest cat put to sleep after a sudden cancer diagnosis.

Nine days ago, the US held the presidential election. Three days afterward, all major news networks called the election for Joe Biden. Our current President hasn’t conceded yet, most likely won’t, and is currently threatening our democracy.

In two years, I’ve written ten novels. Most of them will be released at some point. Some need extensive work. One or two will never be published.

I’m working on another manuscript. Rising Tide is the working title. I expect it to change. I’ve outlined it, and it’s ready to be written. I’ve written two chapters so far, in two days. This is the third day, and I’m having trouble.

Why am I having trouble? What are the possible reasons?

Anxiety about the state of my country? Certainly possible, but it has eased over the past couple days.

Grief over the loss of my cat? Also possible. I miss her dearly.

Normal, plain-jane self doubt? Quite possible. This is a constant companion. The question if this endeavor I’ve embarked on is worth it at all. That no matter how many novels I publish, no matter how hard I work, how much I plan, it won’t matter. That the path to even modest success is too difficult.

Has the constant onslaught of fear and anxiety in 2020 overwhelmed me? I know it’s had some effect. Writing horror can be difficult mentally, and being exposed to it in real life has certainly lessened my appetite for writing it.

Or has the well run dry? Is the place where all my words come from empty?

I have written more in the last two years than I have in my entire life put together. And that doesn’t even count all the editing, proofreading, and just regular thinking I’ve done on top of putting words on paper.

Let me say this. I don’t believe in magic, and I don’t believe in writer’s block, at least not in the classic sense. There are periods where I find writing difficult, or even impossible, but the block is not some mystical force. There is typically a concrete reason why I’m struggling, and it is never reliably the same reason. Any of the answers above could be the right one for today.

The real answer, for today, is a little of everything. If I drill down, this chapter is introducing the antagonist, a thoroughly unlikable man who wields power over a small town, and is going to torment my protagonist just for the fun of it. He’s loud, he’s brash, and he’s a member of a death cult, and today, I don’t think I want to be in that headspace. Want may not even enter into the equation. I simply can’t be in that headspace today.

But I don’t write in a vacuum. No one does anything in a vacuum. And I need to keep that in mind.

But the well hasn’t run dry. It never will.

Tomorrow I will write the chapter, and I’ll finish the damn manuscript this month.