<$BlogRSDURL$> Spontaneous Things: Karina Sumner-Smith's Blog
Friday, February 14, 2003

This feels funny, writing journal entries again after so long. I almost don't know where to begin.

It was the right choice, stopping Spontaneous Things when I did. Truth be told, I probably should have stopped sooner. The difficulty that I was having just writing and posting was clearly evident in the last few months of this journal's last incarnation, and yet I dislike just giving up. It can be difficult to not equate stopping with failure -- for me, anyway.

But the difficulty I was having writing journal entries turned out to be an early symptom of something far larger. Within a month or so of my last entry, I found myself unable to write anything. I had ideas for short stories, and I could not type more than a few sentences. I had this huge novel idea, and wrote no more than a few thousand words before having to walk away (again). I couldn't freewrite. And, soon, I could barely even write email. Yes, I was incredibly busy, what with work and then a new semester, but I admit that was not the only reason for my silence.

What's odder still is that I didn't believe in writer's block. Or, at least not what I had understood writer's block to be. I'd always thought of it as something active -- something was blocking the writer's mind, standing in her way, stopping her. But this ... this was simply absence. I had ideas, characters, stories, but they were somehow distant and trapped. I knew how to think like a writer, the rationality of creation, but no inspiration. No passion. No desire.

For the second time, I experienced real doubt about whether or not I was actually a writer. The first time, I simply despaired that I'd never be published, that I'd never be good enough. This time, I wondered if all of it had only been a phase. A passing passion. A love that had left me, and I was trying to continue only because of a sense of duty -- a sense of responsibility to myself, perhaps, or that damned refusal to simply let go.

And what if that was it? What if my time as a writer was at an end? What the hell could I do with myself and my life if I could not write?

I have spent the past while wondering about that. Months upon months of questioning and fear and uncertainty. I might have even found a hint of an answer.

But it wasn't enough. Even as I thought I'd lost it (whatever it was that I might have once had) I was planning. Turning over novel ideas in my mind. Discovering characters, creating places, worlds, traditions. I could not write, but I could not stop.

And then, last week, something changed for me. Something started to feel different, and I was too afraid to even admit it to myself. Despair can become almost comfortable in its predictability. Then I got a phone call from Rick Wilber, telling me that my short story "She is Elizabeth Lynn Rhodea" had just placed as an Honorable Mention in this year's Asimov Award.

That did it. I don’t know how or why, but I can write again. Not a lot. Probably not even well. I feel a little rusty, a little rough around the edges ... but the words are starting to come again. And that’s something.

Posted by Karina Sumner-Smith at 6:39 PM


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