I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the differences between “creative” writing and book reviewing, but first I should address the elephant in the room. Good day, elephant; you represent the fact that I haven’t written a legitimate blog post since May 10. Much like my good
friend acquaintance Nate, my own blog contains little evidence these days of my presence, but is instead a whirlwind of Jennas, Katies, and Michelles.
Which is not so bad. Nobody besides myself has been wondering “Where the hell is Duhr,” and Jenna, Katie, Michelle, et aliae, have provided, and will continue to provide, fresh, interesting and amusing content.
But just like Jenna wrote about yesterday, I feel like I’ve lost my writing voice. And my blogging voice (my bloice). In the past couple of months I’ve sat down dozens of times intending to write a post welcoming myself back to the blog, but no matter how hard I strain, the only thing that comes out is a little bit of pee.
And it’s not just blogging.
Outside of Including book reviews, I haven’t written anything “creative” for months. Which brings me back to my point. If I even *&$&%$ have one.
I used to write fiction
all the time occasionally rarely almost never but enough to get by. (Yes, I realize I am overusing the strikethrough function. It’s a character flaw.) But that almost never is now totally never. I’m talking nunca. Mad jamas. I haven’t finished a short story in … man, I can’t even say. The last time it happened, Anna Nicole Smith called to congratulate me.
Meanwhile, I’m editing and publishing some genuinely exciting work at Fringe Magazine and the Texas Observer, reviewing some riveting new novels and story collections, and reading excellent new work from WriteByNighters. My life is consumed with new writing produced by others. It’s fulfilling, it’s challenging, it’s so much better than parking other people’s SUVs or mopping up hurl at a bar on East 6th here in Austin.
But does it keep me from getting in the game?
Sometimes I feel like the equipment manager of the football team. I’m useful. I squirt water into the players’ mouths when they come off the field, I tie their shoes during timeouts, I hand them towels when they step out of the shower. But while they dry off, I stare at their dongs and wish my own were bigger.
So, what am I talking about here? Am I saying that as I go deeper and deeper into editing and criticism I become less and less of a writer? Is reading and editing this much new work somehow sapping my motivation to create my own? Do I spend so much time laundering other jockstraps that my boys are safe without one?
Editors and book reviewers, how do you strike a balance between championing (or Dale Pecking) the writing of others and creating your own fresh work? Does editing/critiquing–outside of time-management issues–ever keep you from producing your own writing?
And since I don’t want to end a blog post with six straight questions, here’s a declarative sentence.