Sunday, May 06, 2007

BLOGGER'S BLOCK


a concrete block, originally uploaded by Ozyman.

I'd like to say I've been suffering from Blogger's Block, a real and serious condition worthy of capitalization, and maybe even a listing in Wiki. But unfortunately, I don't believe it exists.

Even its more famed and deadly cousin, Writer's Block, seems to me like a dressed-up name for fear. Or laziness. Or procrastination.

Or maybe it just means you really don't want to write at all. You want to think about writing--a much less taxing activity, that has never taken the life of a tree, or bored a single reader.

So no, I haven't had Blogger's Block. Instead, I've been conducting an unplanned (and highly successful!) experiment on the principle of Inertia.

So much of what I learned in grade school is lost forever, as I first learned when I tried to help my kids with their third grade math homework. Division of fractions? Huh? Did I ever do that? And how about diagramming a sentence? I'm sure there's a good reason to learn to do it, but I never knew what it was.

But I can still remember the morose Mrs. M. (who tippled in the paper closet,) teaching us that:
A body in motion remains in motion,
while a body at rest remains at rest
until acted upon by an outside force.

It has the kind of sing-song rhythm that made it memorable for those of us more inclined to poetry than science. If, say, the theory of relativity could have been encapsulated in a similarly catchy phrase, I might actually understand it.

But back to the scientific principle of Inertia. In life, it means something like 'if you don't begin your diet or your novel or your exercise program today, you're even less likely to begin it tomorrow...' And if you ignore your blog for five days or more, it soon becomes "a body at rest," stuck indefinitely on a poem about a bad mood.

Very interesting, no? I think it was Picasso who said that he painted every day because if he took a day off, he might never do it again.

There's a lesson in that, and now that I'm in motion again (I think), I just might take it.

Tomorrow: Changing Light

57 comments:

kenju said...

I like what you said about inertia. Whenever someone asks me what has contributed to my larriage lasting for almost 43 years - I answer "inertia"....LOL

rdl said...

Yea! she's back! haven't you done that experiment before? :D
sorry couldn't resist. :D

marja-leena said...

Welcome back, you've been missed! Love the photo, and your take on inertia, which I know all about, too!
Picasso is so right, but I still don't manage every day (- maybe if I had a wife?).

Left-handed Trees... said...

Maybe you should just call it "composting"? That's my lazy way out...I'm not procrastinating, who me??? Glad to read your words today...
Love,
D.

Amishlaw said...

Welcome back. You're absolutely right (I had originally written it "write") about writer's inertia. It has happened to me a number of times. Another interesting thing is your last post before the hiatus was entitled "Three posts in one day." That too has happened to me. There's a spasm of writing and then flaccidity (I'm only talking about writing.)

Sky said...

I've missed you. As I read this post I wished you were in Seattle again so we could chat and share our frustrations over a great lunch on the Sound. It'll be sunny in Seattle again this week, and I can hardly stand to be inside!

Marilyn said...

I thought you'd just gone off on some new leg of your whirlwind book tour! ;) Glad you're back.

Devon Ellington said...

Sometimes you need inertia. I call it 'percolating time'. It's to refill the creative well.

Enjoy it. You've earned it.

The Writers' Group said...

I'm with Devon (who may have one of the best names ever, as fine a name as Patry, I think), that percolating time is very important to my writing. But not too long, not too many days in a row. For me,though, it's not productive to simply write. Sometimes it's better to simply wait.

Amy

Holly Kennedy said...

I'm with Devon. Everyone needs time to refill that creative glass. There are days/weeks where I'm completely.... empty. But the energy always returns.

Nice to have you return!

zhoen said...

You seem to be in good company, many bloggers have taken breaks. Or drifted to stops, more like. Ebb and Flow.

I prefer momentum, that first push on a swing is not as fun as the high arc.

Patry Francis said...

kenju: I hope it's been happy inertia!

r: As you know, I conduct it regularly--and Newton's theory is confirmed every time.

marja-leena: I had a hard time finding the right photo for the subject, but as soon I saw this one, I knew I had it. p.s. I could use a wife, too.

delia: I like the composting metaphor because it's ACTIVE. Love to you, too!

amishlaw: (Laughing here, in case you can't hear it in IL.)

Sky: Oh, I want to come back! I want to share lunch (preferably something involving salmon)! I want to see the whales!

marilyn: Just touring in my mind. Davis is much more fun.

Devon (who indeed has a marvelous name, Amy and Holly:

Yes, I agree with you all, and with left-handed trees who calls it composting. Sometimes you have to SIMPLY WAIT. (Amy, you've made me want to reprint both the Kafka and the Goethe quotes that inspired the name of the blog--both very relevent.)(How could I forget?)

If you force yourself to write before you're ready--especially if you're talking about a novel, you may find you've walked 100 miles down the wrong path, and now you've only doubled the length of your journey.

But I also think, a writer can always write SOMETHING, and probably like a musician doing scales, it's a wise practice.

rdl said...

Yes reprint or link to the Kafka & Goethe quotes, 2 of my favs.

Lisa said...

So glad you're back! Thanks for bringing back my sophomore english teacher in high school, Mrs. J. Her husband was a retired Navy Captain, whom she referred to only as "The Captain". She had that blunt grey haircut with bangs, and she was perpetually dressed in natty Pendleton plaids and wore galoshes. She had the affected Massachusetts accent that I love...almost Kennedy-esque. I loved her class. She taught me to read Shakespeare, but I'll never forget HER trips to "tipple" in the paper closet and occasionally her bottom desk drawer.

Dawn said...

I like your take on inertia, Patry! So really, I'm not being lazy, I am conducting a scientific experiment. I am so pleased to hear that! I thought I was destined to be a one-book-wonder, but now I can see I simply need to "compost" myself a little longer.

NoVA Dad said...

Welcome back! As others have said, we've missed seeing you around here. I can certainly empathize with the writer's/blogger's block; I've had it in varying degrees lately, and many of my posts have just been video clips, articles, and random thoughts. I've been doing some writing as well on the side (experimenting with some short stories), but even that is going in fits and starts.

Here's to moving the block and continuing down the road!

Patry Francis said...

r: Tonight, when I review Changing Light, I'll post them.

lisa: Such a vivid description! I wish I'd had your tippler instead of mine. I never properly appreciated Shakespeare until I read him as an adult.

dawn: Happy composting! (P.S. I wrote 4 1/2 pages in my new novel today, so maybe I've finally got the soil primed.)

nova dad: That's why I feel like there's no excuse for my blogger's block--because you can just post random thoughts. Who doesn't have an abundance of those? I, for one, have enough random thoughts to fill at least five heads. Thanks for missing me!

The Curmudgeon said...

"But I also think, a writer can always write SOMETHING, and probably like a musician doing scales, it's a wise practice."

This makes sense to me.

Welcome back.

Patry Francis said...

zhoen: How did I not see your comment? The five heads must have been elsewhere...Anyway, I love your image of the high arc of the swing. Momentum...I think that may be my next scientific experiment.

Sara said...

Hey, inertia was the theme of the last IgNobel awards. Were you there?

gary said...

The date on your last post was starting to bother me...It was beginning to seem like it was always Friday the 13th...Good to see you back. If you block again, please, don't do it on a Friday the 13th.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not superstitious (and if I was my grandpa always said 13 was a lucky number in our family).

Patry Francis said...

curmudgeon: Glad to see you here, too.

sara: IgNobel awards? I've never heard of them, but it seems like something I need to know about.

gary: Actually, I'm ashamed to admit it, but I AM suspicious about Friday the 13th. I probably never should have posted on that day--especially three times, and especially not a poem about a bad mood and death.

deb said...

Nice to see you again. I haven't visited in a while (why, why, why? i wonder ...), but it's nice to come back and see you still being your fabulous self.

I find writers/bloggers "block" very similar to exerciser's avoidance. Sometimes you really want to stay on the couch, but you have to haul ass up and start walking/writing ... it might not start out that great, but eventually, it feels really good. (a body in motion ...)

Here's to movement. ;) D

marta said...

Your comments about writer's block inspires me to suggest the book The Midnight Disease. A fascinating read for any writer.

Fred Garber said...

Sometimes I really do not have anything to say. I may want to say something just to fill up the void. So, it is ok not to say something. But don't do it too often....I missed reading your posts!

Sara said...

Oh, my goodness. Yes. You need to know about the IgNobel awards. I think Ted really needs to know about them.

Read more here. The ceremony is open to the public, to anyone who buys a ticket. We attended the 2006 ceremony, which included an opera about inertia. We absolutely plan to attend another.

Melba said...

Maggie and I were talking the other day about who was coming to her birthday party and she asked me is Patry coming? You have made quite an impression on her!
Lets get together soon. maybe we can take a walk on the beach some afternoon.
XO,
Melba

Therese said...

Yeah, I don't much believe in blocks, but procrastination and inertia? Check.

Good experiment--now get back to work! (Talking to myself...)

Patry Francis said...

deb: Yes, to movement--even if it's just a baby step in the right direction!

marta: I actually bought that book a while ago, but have never read it. Thanks for the reminder!

fred: I agree. Sometimes nothing is more necessary or profound than silence.

sara: I'm sending the link to Ted. Maybe we'll see you there this year.

melba: YES! (And Maggie made a huge impression on me, too.)

Therese: And you're talking to me, too--saying the words I most need to hear.

tinker said...

Yay! You're back from your inertia break - whether it was intentional or not, I hope you enjoyed the break away from the page. So glad to see you back though, I've missed you!

Clare said...

Yup, sympathise with the maths too (as well as the inertai and everything else). I sometimes look at my text books from college and there are notes in pencil in the margin - but sure someone else must have done that - although they do seem to be in my handwriting. Weird.

colleen said...

I just got finished writing that I'm not sure writer's block really exists. (of course the thought came from you saying you had this). I think "writer's crashes," that thing that happens when you just have to turn off the incessant sentence making.

I actually admire that you can let the blog ebb and flow. I feel a little too driven for my own good.

colleen said...

Oops. My second sentence got mangled in the process. I think I know what that means!

I think writer's block is more often a writer's crash.

Patry Francis said...

tinker: It's great to know I could stay away this long and still have friends when I returned...that's meant a lot.

clare: The strange thing is that I actually got better grades in Math than I did in English when I was in school, but I remember every poem and story...

colleen: I'm so glad you're driven! There's always something new and wonderful on Loose Leaf Notes.

floots said...

glad to have you back
and with such truth
it's very true of writing
and also of the way in which i keep telling my running shoes they'll soon be in regular use again
cheers

Sharon Hurlbut said...

I'm with Picasso, which explains my poem-a-day fixation. At this point, I don't dare stop for fear I'll never get rolling again.

Still, I'm sure your break was well-earned after the incredibly busy Spring you've had. It's great to see you back.

robin andrea said...

I have been wondering where you've been. I remember writing here once about ideas percolating, but now it's gardening season. Roger puts some seeds in water before he plants them. They germinate. Some seeds he puts directly into little compacted seedling pots. They germinate. Some seeds even like being put in the freezer before they are ready to be planted. After some time, the green shoots appear, and then if conditions are right, there's no stopping them.

Patry Francis said...

floots: my running shoes look increasingly dejected, too.

sharon: Your poem-a-day experiment proves that quantity only increases quality.

robin: What a wonderful metaphor. I hopoe it applies to writing as well.

Mary Sheehan Winn said...

Picasso was right. I have a love/hate relationship with inertia!
Looking forward to a Liar's Party :D

Becca said...

I've been struggling against the same force of energy, Patry! Glad you're back...

KG said...

Welcome back, Patry!

My favorite science class ever was titled "Frontiers of Physics." It was more commonly known as these: "Physics without Math" and "Physics for Poets."

Good stuff! :)

Anissa said...

I couldn't agree more! "I'll do it tomorrow," has a tendency to drag on and on in my house. Fortunately (or not, however you look at it) it's the housework that is pushed until tomorrow. :)

ainelivia said...

Welcome back patry, have missed you

Michael said...

Sometimes, perhaps the Taoist approach works well: Do nothing, then peace.

Patry Francis said...

mary: A liar's party in an Irish pub! What could be more fun--or natural?

becca: Maybe the gods of inertia become more powerful in the spring?

kg: Mathless Physics for Poets sounds wonderful. I remember how disappointed I was with astronomy. I thought it was all about looking at the stars, but it turned out to be nearly all Math.

annissa: Housework? These days, I approach it with what the Flylady calls the "five minute room rescue." That means, you set a timer and clean like mad for five minutes, and when you're done, you go back to writing. Works for me.

ainelivia: Thank you for missing me!

Michael: I think I'm a very good Taoist.

chiefbiscuit said...

As always - a perfect little entry!

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

Interesting thoughts ... I hadn't hear the Picasso quote before, but it makes SO much sense! I'm glad I'm not the only one that battles that from time to time. JP

Marilyn said...

Happy Mother's Day, Patry!

Tinker said...

Hope you have a happy Mother's Day, Patry! xo

Patry Francis said...

chiefbiscuit: Thank you. I love the new photo!

Deborah: I hope it was Picasso who said that, but if not, I'm giving him credit anyway!

marilyn and tinker: Thank you! Hope you're celebrating the good
"mothering" you both do in the world.

Kristin Ohlson said...

Excellent post-- and much needed by me, today, so terribly tempted by inertia.

Patry Francis said...

kristin: I had a great writing day yesterday. I'd like to hope that meant the inertia was vanquished, but I know these things tend to be cyclical.

Liquid said...

Great Blog! Much love.

Suzanne

MB said...

Inertia and momentum... Sometimes the field needs to remain fallow, and sometimes the seedling needs to keep pushing every day, every day. And sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. No matter, it's good to see you back, Patry. You were missed.

Swirly said...

I have always found that the very first step of any endeavor - no matter how large or small - is the hardest. It's as if the minute I start something, I'm committed, so for as long as I put it off (even things I really WANT to do!) I don't have to take responsibility for it. Am I really admitting to this? ;)

Patry Francis said...

Liquid: Thank you and welcome!

MB: You are so very wise.

Swirly: What a wonderful comment--and EXACTLY what I needed to hear. Really.

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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