16 November 2012


By Molly Field (www.mollyfield.com)

I’m supposed to be writing for NaNoWriMo this month and I have to admit: it’s not going well a’tall.

In fact, this post was supposed to be written a week ago.

The first day, November 1, I was raring to go. Woke up early, felt great, made a vat of coffee, prepared the children for school, came home, put on my woobies, turned on my writerly music, sat down with my mug of half-caf java (sorry Carrie, I’ll take hostages if I drink too much coffee) and long straw which used to be an aquarium tube and immediately got a headache.

I don’t get headaches.

Almost a week went by and I woke with the headaches after going to sleep with them. Last Friday, I went to the doctor’s and diagnosed with a sinus infection. It didn’t present typically with copious output and according to my physician, my “nose [was] clear, but [my] entire head [was] covered in fluid.”

Well, there it is: a fluid-covered,vise-clamped head.

This about sums it up. 

The diagnosis was like permission to allow my realization that I didn’t want to do NaNo this time. It wasn’t about incentive, camaraderie, or initiative. I have plenty of all of those, I just don’t have the interest or the compulsion or ah, hell, who am I kidding… I didn’t have a story this time either.

I sat down and wrote a few things, but they felt forced. They didn’t sound like me and I didn’t like it at all. It wasn’t writer’s block, it was writer’s blech.

My mother People My mother says, “Oh Maally! Relaaaax. It’ll be faaantaaastic, like everrrything yooou do. Yoooou’re your owwwwn worrrrst critik.” And I was. I was a really bad critic. I was so bad, I didn’t show up for the act.

I wrote a couple blog pieces, I enjoyed doing that. What’s funny about that is that at the end of October, I had announced on my vastly and wildly popular blog (really, you should check it out, it’s all the rage) that I was going to dial back on blogging so that I could write more. So what did I do? I didn’t write so I could go back to blogging. Even though I felt like crap but didn’t know it.

Once I’d learned the sinus infection was real and that it had been validated by my doctor, all of a sudden, an intense sharp pain slammed me from the back of my head to between my eyes at the brow bone. My doctor was in mid-sentence when this happened, telling me about the meds and what I had to do and I had raise my “just a minute” finger in her face and sit back, and take it all in. I was overcome.

“Sharp pain? Right now?” She asked and I nodded.

“First time ever in all this time?” she asked, already knowing the answer, to my furtive, micro-nodding upper body. Viselike, my chin was resting on my chest; I had become a clam, a nodding clam.

“I see that a lot, with some people. I see it a lot with moms. You needed validation didn’t you, to be unwell?” I nodded, sniffling now. Not from the pressure, but from the blessed relief of letting the pressure go.

A couple moments of quiet passed between us. I blew my nose, crumpled the tissue until I spoke, “I was one of those kids, who when I’d get in a fight with a schoolmate on the playground or with my brothers or a neighbor, I wouldn’t let them see me cry. I took it and held it all in. But when I got home, and I saw my mom or dad, I cried and howled. I let it out then. When I felt…”

“Safe.” She said. “When you felt safe.”

And I said sniffled ‘yes,’ which sounded like, “Shnesh.” 

So this brings me to my point: forcing is wrong, holding in is wrong and pushing ourselves to do something that isn’t ‘fitting’ is wrong. It’s not that it’s wrong in an ethical or moral sense; it’s simply wrong in a sense that it doesn’t improve things. We explode. But I know this! I wrote about forcing on my blog. 

I need one of these. 

I’m all for writing a book, participating in NaNo when I’m ready to go; when I’ve got something with legs: go forth, write, edit, beg and publish. But if you love to write and you don’t have a clue as to what to write about and your heart’s not in it, then uhh… don’t force it. It’ll be obvious. We writers? Historically we are tortured, brilliant, sad, alcoholic, codependent and tragic people; there are enough of those in the world already... why add 'stupidly masochistic' to the list? Oh, that's right, because it sells.

I might be totally against the writerly establishment when I say all that, but I feel I must clarify: I’m not saying give up, I’m not saying don’t write and I’m not saying don’t push through, even though I sort of am. I’m saying this: write something else. Step away from the laptop. Use a pen and paper. Play Pictionary. Try a poem or a couple of dirty limericks. Take some photos or write in your journal. Don’t let your right brain dry up, just don’t beat it up. When the brain is fertile, the book will grow. 

I have books in my head, for sure. But not NaNo books; I say this at risk of sounding snobby, and it’s not what I mean at all. Rather it’s quite the opposite: my thinking is tragically pedantic: it’s the No in the word that gets me every time. I am not good with fiction (if you read my PPM interview, you’ll see this if this post hasn't convinced you). My every attempt at writing a novel becomes a poorly veiled memoir, sad and dressed in outdated and ill-fitting clothes, clicking on a broken stiletto, and with terribly bad hair despite blatant attempts to prove otherwise.

I'm not sure what this picture of Tara Reid has to do with this post other than the fact that it seemed to be the most appropriate for my vision of searching for "drunk but trying to fake sobriety" images. 

Who knows what I’ll do next. I’ve got some ideas in the hopper that if I disguise them well enough no one will ever be the wiser. No one. I’m talking alternate universes, amorphous plasma, vegetative, non-humanoid forms, laser appendages and stuff. But non-humanoid plasma that came from dysfunctional cosmic petri dishes who are dealing with serious behavior issues. That sounds easy enough.

So what about you? Do you force and then when you’re validated by someone else that the forcing is for naught, do you suddenly release? 


  1. As you well know, I don't just agree with it all, I live it too. xo

  2. I do know. Forcing is bad. Releasing is good. xo thank you for coming by and tweeting too, you tweetie.

  3. I've had this problem since I was a kid. Holding it all in! It's not easy to change and it also is hard on the people around you when you change, but change is goo.

    I tend to get unstuck by doing other things and I totally get that it is not writers block, but writers blech. I sometimes feel as if I have eaten too much candy when I do too much of anything. When I get tired of painting I write, when I get tired of both I bake. I take photographs. I clean stuff that hasn't been cleaned in a long time because I have been so busy painting, writing, baking, photographing...yeah, sometimes you just need to feel like a normal person and not just a creative genius :)

    1. LC, change is goo. you're absolutely right. (sorry, i had to.)

      I think this piece will resonate with a lot of us; it's hard to be in love with something you're desperate to make work. So... yes, cleaning, tinkering, photos, lots of great ideas. (And around here: the cleaning is definitely helpful.)

      Thank you for coming by and sharing on pinterest! xoxo

  4. Funny. Love the Barbie in a vice pic! Pain... the gift that keeps giving.

    1. Thank you for commenting! I did a search of "sinus infection headache" and Barbie didn't come up immediately; all I saw were pics of the insides of heads. yuck. Then... THERE SHE WAS! waiting for me. it was a wonderful moment. Sometimes my head feels like that: tiny and pressed. But I never look as good as she does. My roots are done now, so my hair matches at least. -Molly

  5. Sweet article are you sure you're not writing about me? LOL but seriously when I can't think of anything to write I just totally drop it all and do something else...even though I'm dying to write or keep in touch with everyone. I noticed that's the best way for me to "come back to it". Or like others have told me...just keep a pen and paper ready to jot things down even if it's just a word or two of ideas that you might get during the day...but then again I don't know anything! I just started =p lol

    1. Courtney - the pen and paper is great and genius and awesome. 'Cept for me when I go back and I see "corduroy and fish" ... clearly I need to write *just* a little bit more. Forcing is bad. Forcing is bad.

      That's all I can say about it. In all ways in life: forcing is bad.

      Come back to it... let it flow through / over / under / around you and then... you'll be ready. If it never flows, it wasn't meant to be.

      Thank you for commenting and coming all the way over here to see me! (Did you deduct your mileage?)



  6. Oh wow! This sums up my life right now! Forcing something that just isn't working, but I don't know what else I should be doing. Thanks for the link tweet! ;-) Forcing = Boom! *head explodes*

    1. LucyBall! hiya! yes, it does. if you didn't see my post on forcing on my actual blog and you want to (once your headache is gone), check it out: http://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2012/05/13/when-the-bough-breaks-forcing/

      thanks for stopping by over here! -M

  7. Love this and couldn't agree more. Writing is for when you have a story to tell, when you have something to say, when you are ready to take the time it requires to really work with it.

    Delighted to discover your blog as a result of finding this post. (The name and its origins are fantastic!)

    1. Hi there! Thank you for stopping by! Yes, when we have a story to tell, it tells us to write it.

      The meal I made was Agla D'olio - olive oil and garlic on pasta. He liked it; i loved what he said. He has says lots of things like that - still. :)

  8. As a ten-time NaNo participant and a four-time (five-time?) NaNo ML, I just want to thank you so much for this because I have seen a lot of WriMos push and push and push themselves, and they'd come to me wanting to know WHY their story wasn't working and WHY they couldn't hit word count, and I so rarely got them to admit that maybe this wasn't their year for NaNo. So, good for you! Shake it off; feel better; maybe come back next year!

    I hope your head's all cleared up now. That's not a fun way to start a month no matter, but especially a month when you had a big thing planned.

    1. Hi Gayle! Yes, when it's right, it writes. I am feeling better - healthier living through science. -M