Sparked by Words

N is for Nix the Blahs

Pachie was our dog when I was a teenager. He was a spaniel-sized mutt with silky red fur, a plump puppy face even when an adult, and long singular strands of black feathers that draped over his ears. Pachie was my respite from teenage loneliness, always eager for a long walk, ready to plop on a bed at home. His best trick was to jump on me when I told him, “I’ve got the blahs.” Melancholy in his human litter mate would be wiped out by launching himself at me and covering my face with exuberant smooches. Seeing genuine sadness in me, which happened a lot, he’d respond the same way. The most loyal and loving dog, he read every family member’s emotional state and reacted with boundless affection.

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When we brought home our first born son, I bent to show Pachie, now old and arthritic, the baby. He sniffed at his newest brother, then turned and walked right by my side to the living room. After that, he assigned himself as Noah’s guardian, and if you wanted to see the new baby, you had to get Pachie’s approval. He died of old age at eighteen on the Fourth of July, when our younger son, Ethan, was nearly one year old. No one was ever lonely for long with Pachie around and when he was gone, I grieved him for many years.

A fellow blogger and good friend told me her writing space is a dark corner in her basement. I burst out laughing. Writing is a lonely endeavor. Here we sit with our laptops in our corners and we talk to ourselves for hours and hours and hours. I work on my big desk top computer because it has an ergonomically correct keyboard that makes it easier on my carpal tunnel injured hands . The computer is in the middle of the living room. Awkward and ugly, but my plans to move it to a secondary bedroom are rough sketches and not action yet. Still, I talk to myself, literally out loud, talk talk talk, embarrassed when my husband walks in on me even though he’s used to catching me in writing mode. I’m not that interesting to talk to under the most social of circumstances, but when I write, it’s my modus operandi. Even when I talk-write, I’m a bit lonely. Wish Pachie was still by my side. (Hubby always leaves.)

Writing is an introspective endeavor. We plumb the depths of our minds, research the topics that interest us, consider the experiences that will inform our stories. It’s all about us, our intuition, our insight, our knowledge, our writing style, the characters we birth, the plots we plan, and the scenes we paint. Another cup of coffee and bag of pretzels, another page written – all that lonely work and sometimes we writers end up with the blahs. I suspect it’s the real culprit in the dastardly writer’s block syndrome that some suffer. We weary with the boring impositions we foist on ourselves. Listen to me talk to myself:

Are you home? – Sure, always. – Can I come over to visit? – Thought you were already here. – Yeah, but I decided I’d dress for the occasion. – Why bother, sweat pants and tee shirts have been fine all week. – Maybe I won’t bother to drop by after all. – Wait, I’m still here.

Are you nodding in agreement, this is your story too? Why would anyone want to talk with you when you don’t even want to talk with you? You’ve got to the change the dynamic in your life, infuse some excitement, import strategy, make life interesting so someone wants to spend time with you and give meaning to your life.

Here’s a plan, in fact a passel of plans to knock you out of your lethargy:

Get a dog. Take her for a walk around town and chat with everyone who talks to your dog as if you weren’t there.

Grab your laptop and sit at a coffee bar. Make eye contact with the person across from you, raise your paper cup, toast le chaim!

Sign up for an Emeritus class – hardly matters what subject, maybe something about writing or books or pottery wheel or Medieval music. Ask the person next to you if they’ve ever gone spelunking.

Join a writer’s critique group. Attend the meetings, crit the submissions, enter your own work, listen, learn. After the official group ends, stay and chat for an hour.

Start a blog, like this one, maybe better than this one. Post and reply. Scour for new blog ideas and share photographs.

Ask your friends over for happytizers and rum drinks. Surprise everyone with funny hats and introduce a game of book quotes.

Attend a writer’s conference. There is lots to do here, and networking is the most important – with fellow writers (who might read and review your book,) agents (who might become yours!) and editors (who might become yours!) Meet everyone and get contact info. Collect phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook info, LinkedIn contacts. Talk, write, email, tweet, and chirp.

Stimulate your imagination. Gather life experiences. Make contact with the human race, the doggie race, the alien race too. Use everything as an opportunity but nothing as an excuse. Make friends and connections. Nix the blahs.

Then sit yourself down in the loneliest corner of your basement and devote yourself to your craft. Write, for crying in the sink, write. Pachie is smiling down on us.

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Comments on: "N is for Nix the Blahs" (24)

  1. As long as I’ve known you – as well as I think I know you – I’m always seeing you through different eyes when I read what you write. Love you.

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    • Oh Linda, to read this from you, this means so much to me. My inner life comes forward through my writing. It gives me time to think carefully about what I want to say, whereas talking often comes across so fast. It can appear thoughtless and is easy to misinterpret. You’ve always been a great friend. Thank you.

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  2. To write one must experience life first. I love your advice. As a writer I have taken writng classes, participated in several writing groups, and attended many conferences. All of which I hope to resume this year. Writing is a lonely experience, but if we do as you say mingle with the people, we can create characters that are so much richer in texture. And perhaps, those interactions, will make us a little less lonely.

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  3. Writing is definitely introspective. Of course, that’s one of the things I love about it. But you’re right–we need to join the world of the living or we’ll soon forget how to do so!

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  4. Great suggestions, Shari–but the best is to get a dog. Pachie would be perfect. Why didn’t you get another one? And why didn’t you put his picture in the post! I really need a visual.

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    • We did have another dog when our kids were younger, a distant relative of Pachie as it turns out. I’ve wanted a dog for a long time but this is not the time to get a new member of our family. I’ll probably not get a puppy but there are lots of things to consider – our son’s family has animal allergies, we’d need to get a dog that won’t activate their problems. As for the pic – I don’t even have a photo of Pachie in my computer files though I have them in my house, framed. And I still can’t upload photos or pics, no matter what I do. WordPress befuddles me. Did I ever tell you how low my mechanics score was on high school profile tests? I couldn’t figure out pictures of gears. (53 – guessing score! LOL!) Jacqui, I might have to be content with petting Casey.

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  5. I used to have a cat called Pippin (like the apples) when I was a boy. He was an unusual cat in that he was convinced he was a dog. He was very affectionate and used to follow me on walks around the garden. Writing can be a lonely task and I do sometimes wish Pippin was still here, keeping my lap warm as I type.

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    • As you’ve discovered, the great thing about a blog is the near immediate feedback you get on it. Even if you spend several hours writing a post, once it hits the ethernet, you start getting comments from followers. The reward of replies can make you (well, maybe not you, Bun, but definitely me) a bit tipsy. Book writing is a truly lonely endeavor. It can be months or years or never before you as the writer get a response. It’s kind of like playing air guitar – no audience at all for your incredible skills. The loneliness can be overwhelming, and I think it’s a big reason why so many people begin writing books but never complete them. I don’t mean to diminish any feelings you have when writing, just wanted to differentiate what I see as the Big Lonely. And Pippin sounds like a wonderful cat. How lucky you were to have had him when you were a kid. Being a kid is often an extremely lonely time of life. For another post perhaps.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I can imagine you must be right about the loneliness involved in working on a book. I’ve never tried it myself, but it I know it’s a massive undertaking and one that has to be tackled by oneself.

        As for Pippin, perhaps he will turn up in a post one of these days. I’ll have to scan my memory banks and try to think of some humorous episodes involving him. 🙂

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      • I would love to read about the adventures of Pippin. Please do.

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  6. Shari, I so admire your humor, wit, and beautiful writing. I have a habit of muttering to myself while I write, which I’ve always done. I used to need privacy and quiet, but my kids have cured me of that, though I still prefer it. Joining a writer’s critique group sounds like fun. It has been a long time since I’ve received feedback on my writing, and I miss the growth that comes with that.

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    • Thanks, Chavva, your comments mean so much to me. You know I’ve long been in your fan club for all your accomplishments, so for you to recognize something of value in my writing gives me a humble smile.
      I’m really glad to know you’re thinking of getting into your writing as a serious endeavor. You have talent. Should you want to join a writer’s critique group, give me a call and I’ll tell you the details about ours. You’re welcome to visit a few times to see if our style would work for you. No granite commitments.
      As for muttering, I’ve been muttering the whole time I’ve been writing to you. With kids grown and gone, now only hubby gives me the look that suggests I’ve gone crazy. Never said I hadn’t. – 😀

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  7. Shari B-P,
    Oh my goodness you evoked so many memories writing about Pachie (love the name). Max (the green doggy face) was a licker too and always wiped away my tears when I was down. Max only lived to 14 and I still miss him. Eighteen years old is amazing.

    (I think that happytizers is a deeeeeeelicious idea – we should form a happytizing club.)

    P.S. I’d be glad to show you how to put pictures on your blog. Just tell me when.

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    • Judy, I always knew you and I were extraordinary peeps cuz we both love dogs! Jacqui too.
      I already have a happytizer club and I participate all day, every day. You don’t get to be perfect if you don’t practice your craft.
      We’ll make a photo placement date, for sure. Is it anything like product placement? We could make some money if it is.

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  8. My Border collie is my inseparable friend. He doesn’t care how many times I read the scene aloud. He still gazes up at me adoringly while I do it. 🙂

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