“Blank pages inspire me with terror.” – Margaret Atwood

After listening to me whine, a friend decided to give me a copy of Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path: The Journey from Frustration to Fulfillment by Nancy Pickard and Lynn Lott. The authors – a writer and a psychologist – found a patten to the writer’s angst. My friend quickly diagnosed me. I’m at a stopping point on one project, but not ready to launch into something new. “It’s just unhappiness,” she said cheerfully. “That’s the first step on the writer’s path. You’re just circling back to the beginning.”

Unhappiness, huh? This is not news and yet it is somehow helpful. It has a name. Other writers have survived it. I’ve completed my MFA and am shopping my book to agents. I want to push the pen across the page in some meaningful way, but little comes. This is unhappiness.

Unfortunately, my friend has been unable to put her hands on another copy of the book. While I wait for her to locate one, I’ve asked everyone else what they would do. One author suggested giving myself some space. Sit in a café for three hours and just write for ten minutes. Don’t work on anything in particular. Let your mind wander and let something float up. Another recommended writing from the type of writing prompts which call up two stories at the same time. Things like: From where I sat, I could see what they were chasing. My husband, a more practical sort than most of my writer friends, suggested taking care of the things I put off when I was in school – little things like getting new glasses.

I’ll take these excellent suggestions. Next week perhaps. In the meantime I’m taking long walks with the dog and trying not to feel as if the floor has fallen out from under me now that I don’t have an advisor giving me feedback or deadlines requiring me to send 40 pages out every three weeks. I secretly hope an agent will appear in my future to say my book needs tons of work so I can launch myself on it again.

But just in case I locate a copy of the Seven Steps on the Writer’s Path, I’ll go ahead and get new glasses.

(c)Nita Sweeney, 2008, all rights reserved

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