Erotica Readers & Writers Association Blog

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Another Scorching Case Of Writer's Block


I've been having a rough few weeks and a scorching case of writer's block has set in. My parents (both sets) have health problems. For that to make any sense, you must understand that I have parents who raised me and an older couple who adopted me of sorts a few years ago. I call them Mom and Dad. That Mom is having severe vertigo problems due to a possible serious inner ear infection. My mother who raised me died two years ago, and now my dad who raised me is in the hospital with a heart problem aggravated by his COPD. I know the parents labels gets confusing. It's like Neal Gaiman's Coraline -  I have Mother and Other Mother. Then there are my biological parents and cousin since I'm adopted. My birth mother died about four years ago and I'm in regular touch with a blood relative, a cousin. I've turned family into a three-ring circus.

I'm not processing all this mess very well. On top of it, my two latest books aren't selling. That's a severe disappointment. I don't know what to do about it. The weather is getting colder and winter is coming. The cats won't stop fighting. The books not selling well is hitting me especially hard since I see no point in writing at the moment. Why bother when next to no one will read my books? I'm working on a horror novel at the moment as well as a short erotic romance story, but the words simply aren’t flowing.

I know I'm not the only one feeling this way about my writing. A fellow horror writer on Facebook just said pretty much the same thing about his own aspirations since it's harder for him to reach his goals now than when he was younger. One commenter pointed out that maybe when he was younger he set the bar for his goals too low. I wonder if that could be my problem. I used to be happy simply being published. Now, I want to be published by bigger, better houses, get lots of great reviews, get huge sales, and eventually win awards. Not only is a lot of that out of my hands, it's harder to achieve. I have accomplished the first of those goals for the most part but not the others. Not yet. Maybe I just need time. In the meantime, I have no desire to write at all.

What to do?

I haven't had writer's block in awhile, but I haven't forgotten how I've dealt with it in the past. The best thing for me to do is to not fight it. Just give in to it and find something else to do that I enjoy that will improve my bleak mood. I know this won't work for everyone. This is only about what has worked for me. My point is to find what works best for you. If writing through the block works, do it. If getting away from the keyboard for awhile works, go for it. This is what has worked for me.

I'm still going to the beach nearly every day. Walking on the beach is my primary form of  exercise. I've lost 15 pounds since the beginning of summer. The difference this year is that my husband and I intend to join the local YMCA to use their exercise machines and the pool. I lost 15 pounds last summer and the summer before that, but gained it all back and then some because I had no exercise regime set for the fall and winter. So there's something to be happy about. I'll likely reach my target weight (130 pounds) by next summer. Good.

I'm concentrating on my new radio show, Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black. It's about horror and dark fiction, my other literary loves. My first guest will be Josh Malerman, who wrote Bird Box, a scary-as-shit novel. I loved it. He's going to be on my show Thursday Oct. 6 at 4 PM EST. I still do radio shows for Blog Talk Radio and that includes shows about erotic romance and writing. My past guests include women from Broad Universe, Madeleine Shade (who specializes in fairy tales), Cherry Wild and Sophia Soror (they also specialize in fairy tales), and Melissa Keir. Doing these shows keeps me afloat so that I don’t feel as if I'm floundering without direction.

I'm reading more. I like erotic romance and erotica collections by Cleis Press and Xcite Books. I have quite a few books by these publishers, and they inspire me when I write erotic fiction. I'm working on a call for submissions for Cleis that isn't due until December, so I have time to come up with a story. I would love to be accepted by them again. I also enjoy books that scare the crap out of me. I'm about to begin Snowblind by Christopher Golden, which takes place in Massachusetts in the dead of winter. Perfect timing. I've also decided to reread a classic to inspire me while working on my own horror novel, Hell Time. I'm rereading Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.

Finally, I've been watching plenty of TV and movies. I'm binge-watching Mr. Robot, and I'm on the season finale now. Rami Malek deserved his Best Actor Emmy for playing the lead in this show. I'm also enjoying American Horror Story: My Roanoke Nightmare, although it's not the best thing I've seen. The new TV version of The Exorcist is very predictable but the first episode held my attention. Nice Easter Egg with the brief glimpse of a newspaper article about Chris MacNeil from the original movie. Lucifer is back! Love that show. My husband and I can't get enough of Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries. It's my favorite TV show.

I've been baking. I made lemon poppy seed quickbread, angel kisses cookies, hobnobs (British oat tea cookies), maple candy (it is fall after all) and lime spritzer cookies. The lime spritzers taste exactly like the same cookies Pepperidge Farm used to make. They were sold only over the summer and they've been discontinued a long time ago. I loved those cookies, and now I can make them myself.

In a nutshell, I've been doing things I enjoy to take my mind off my worries and the writer's block. When I'm ready to write, I'll write. I'm not going to put undue pressure on myself since I know that will only make the situation worse. Next week I attend a Writers Coffeehouse New England meeting, and I intend to learn how I can get word out about Into The Abyss With Elizabeth Black, including possibly getting it into syndication. This coffeehouse is chock full of valuable information, and I go every chance I get. I've been to one before and I learned a great deal there. After we return, I decorate the house with Halloween gack. I have two Fargo snow globes and a Halloween snow globe. All three depict scenes from the movies. Those are my pride and joy, and I love showing them off. I'm looking forward to Halloween and the fall season. I can at least enjoy myself until this dreadful mood and block lift. Maybe my parents (all of them) will be better soon. Until then, I'll binge-watch more movies and TV and bake stuff. Once I begin writing, I know I'll be fine.

In the meantime, I will continue to watch this video, which I can't watch and be unhappy at the same time. It's Cab Calloway and the Nicolas Brothers doing Jumpin' Jive. This is said to be the greatest dance number ever recorded, and I sure agree with that. Get those happy feet moving!



8 comments:

  1. Sorry you are going through a bleak spell. I sympathise regarding your ageing parents. I am a full-time carer for my Dad who has dementia, and it can be both worrying and stressful, which stops the creative juices dead.
    A lot of writers are concerned about poor sales. Unfortunately there are people out there who rip off our books and sell them cheaply, or even free, and too many people get our books without a penny going to us, the authors.
    I hope your depression lifts soon, and that you are able to resume writing.

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  2. I'm sorry about your dad, Rachel. I have an idea how hard dementia is to live with. A close friend of mine has it, and it's horrible. Yes, there are the pirate sites that don't make our lives any easier. I expect this mood to lift soon, so in the meantime I'm going to enjoy the fall. I'm about to binge-watch "Braindead", that new political satire that's a cross between "The West Wing" and "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers". It's great fun. :) I'm also going to read. That usually inspires my writing.

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  3. I applaud your adaptation to your current bout of writer's block. It certainly is discouraging when you put your heart and soul into a book, then it doesn't sell.

    I'm sure the inspiration will return. Meanwhile, keep up your other efforts!

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  4. Elizabeth, recognizing a problem is the first step toward solving it. You've recognized your writers' block, and you're doing sensible things for the duration (like staying patient during a bout of some minor illness), so your inspiration is likely to come back. I sometimes realize from looking at my short list of stories submitted over the past few months that I have blockage and depression, but I usually try to rationalize it by saying I have other things to do (blog posts! reviews! cooking! laundry! walking the dog!). Your honest post makes it easier for the rest of us to cope.

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  5. Thanks, Lisabet. Yup, those two books won't sell. I don't know why. The writer's block is going away, though. I'm working on a new book now.

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  6. I'm sorry about your blockage and depression, Jean. I've been baking and tending to my herbs. Plus Halloween is around the corner and I'm prepping for it. It's my favorite holiday. :) It's hard going through writer's block sometimes and depression often. I've started writing again, so it seems to be passing. For now.

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  7. One good antidote to writer's block, IMO, is either a personal invitation from an editor to submit something, or a persistent posting of a call-for-submissions because the editor's inbox is too empty. A certain editor has reposted her CFS several times, so I wrote a story, sent it in, and got a grateful acknowledgment. I still don't know if the story will be accepted -- editor prob. hasn't had time to read it yet, but getting a new piece finished feels like progress.

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  8. That's a good point, Jean. There are several groups on Facebook full of CFS and I sometimes submit. I do like to write short stories. Thanks!

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