Friday, May 11, 2007


By Susan Helene Gottfried

I have nothing to say, it seems. Oh, I am overflowing with ideas as soon as I turn the computer off, but as soon as I sit down to put those ideas onto the screen, my brain goes blank.

This isn't like me. I always have things to say. Too many things, usually. And I'm hardly one to shy away from controversy, or to jump in to play devil's advocate or mediate.

This utter inability to put words to screen is a bit disconcerting. Especially because I can open a file of some fiction and fall into as easily as I can fall into a bed at the end of the day. Maybe even easier.

I can hear my fictional character of Trevor Wolff scoffing at me, a cigarette dangling from his lip in his best James Dean imitation. "The problem," he says with a drawl, "is that you're undisciplined lately. Look at you. Write two sentences here and then flip to another window. You're checking your feed reader, you're surfing blogs. And then you whine about having nothing to say!"

He is, of course, right. As he is right when he adds on the part about me being full of it, too. It's a question of discipline. Isn't it?

It is true that there's actually too much to keep up with. My feed reader regularly has over 100 items waiting for me. My network of fellow bloggers grows by the day, and everyone wants me to notice them, just as I want them to notice me.

I love it, I do. I have always been a bit of a loner, and this network makes me feel more connected to people than I ever have been in my life. I've found that they inspire me as I sit down to write.

It's weird; you'd think that there'd be performance anxiety or fear that they'd hate what I write next. Certainly, when no one commented on a recent post within the first few hours of it being posted, I was worried I'd offended. Then again, I was writing about my fictional band's early road trip, the morning after a late-night Mexican dinner. Bodily functions are always a dicey affair, one I usually steer clear of.

I was in my late twenties when I said to a friend, "I've just realized I'm a competitive person." I'd never thought about it; how can a virtual hermit be competitive? With who?

Her response went along the lines of, "What rock have you been living under?"

That competitive nature saves me from the typical writerly anxiety and instead pushes me to challenge myself. To constantly raise my own bar and expand the scope of my imagination.

So maybe, I ought to tell Trevor, what I'm really doing isn't avoiding anything. Maybe I'm working as I surf the Net and visit my friends' blogs, letting my inner voice burble along until I'm finally ready to put words to page.

Trevor's not buying it, but what does he know? He's not real anyway.


Tory said...

Ah, the perennial search for balance! It never ends, does it?

Tory said...

P.S. That's when I get worried about comments. When I've posted something controversial and wonder if I've offended my readers.

I think I'm getting better not worrying about it.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

The panic subsided the next day, when I was deluged with comments from my regulars. Maybe their feed readers didn't pick me up until late; as more of us move to using feed readers, that's going to happen.

So, too, will it negatively affect our hit counters, sad to say.

karen! said...

There are still a few of us who haven't managed to get on the feed reader bandwagon - though that doesn't necessarily mean we'll see the posts any sooner (especially those of us who tend to forget to do the rounds periodically).

Anyway, I like how you turned your writer's block into something interesting to read.

Bob-kat said...

Ah, that sounds a lot like me. I was always a loner too but I like the interaction of blogging.

Perhaps it's not thta you have nothing to write about but that you have too much in your head. Nothing has pushed itself to the front over all the other information yet?

Michele sent me to say hi. I've enjoyed visiting :)

Rashenbo said...

My feed reader keeps growing too... I don't know how I can keep up.. oh, I know how... I can skip writing time for blogging time! :D

I am not a competitive person either, or at least, I didn't think I was... but, yeah, I want to be read and I want to finish my novel and I want to land that agent. There are many of us writer fishes in this here sea... Many Many of us. We need to do something to stand out from the crowd and be a good catch! That means beating the competition.

mcewen said...

Strangely this is the second blog I've visited today that has concerns over lack of comments / vistors. [newbie] So I feel it's the least I can do.
BEst wishes

chase said...

The trick in getting more comments is to whore alot + controversial entries and at the same time visit new people and comment on their blogs. I actually like doing it since I make new friends and I really do go around and make sure I commented to the people who commented on my blog.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Oh, mcewan, it was only on that one post that I was worried about. The comment trail on my regular blog is rich, indeed!

Thanks for stopping by; you're a Michele's regular, aren't you? And you, Chase?

chase said...

Yes I am also a Michele regular hehehe

dew said...

This was interesting for me to read, because I'm struggling with balance in a similar way. I'm so busy with my new books blog and reading all the new blogs I find through it, that who has time to read books any more? But if I read no books, I have nothing to blog about! This is not the first time I've noticed us having something in common. :)