July 3rd, 2007

writing bucky


Having ordered a bunch of stuff from Seal Press over the years, most of which has been pretty good, I was curious when Amazon recommended this book from the publishers. As someone who tends to get stalled half-way through creative projects, I thought Susan O'Doherty's Getting Unstuck Without Becoming Unglued might be full of useful exercises that would help me break through writer's freeze. Alas, when it arrived from Amazon today, my hopes were dashed.

I don't doubt that this book might be useful to some people, but it really isn't useful to me. I thought there would be lots of handy tips and fun writing exercises, but no. There are about five exercises in the book, and most of them seem to involve visualising your childhood and dealing with all the people who told you you could never be an artist/writer/musician/whatever. The case studies of stalled creative women all look at people who were either abused or grew up in abject poverty and whatever sort of miserable life they led, any sign of creativity was frowned upon. When I, however, was a small kid who was into creative stuff, my parents and my teachers and even my friends (who regularly asked me to draw pictures of various things for them) actively encouraged me to write, draw, act - you name it. In fact, the book is making me worry that I was some sort of infant narcissist – one who grew up to be an adult egomaniac – because I seriously can't identify with anything in it. It's not that I don't think its contents don't apply to some people - there are definitely lots of women who have grown up believing that women's voices don't matter and aren't important, and this book could be helpful to them. I, however, was brought up by a feminist mother and whatever my issues may be, thinking that my opinions don't matter, whether it's because I'm female or not, really, really isn't one of them. In fact, if I have a problem in that area, it's the other way round.

To be honest, I think my problem with finishing stuff is that I show every sign of having borderline ADD, and am constantly distracted by the next shiny idea that comes along, so perhaps I'm beyond help by books of this nature. But anyway, just as I find that detailed to-do lists really help my constant and pathological procrastinating, I thought this book might contain some useful tips and exercises (ones that don't involve visualising my imaginary childhood mentor). But it doesn't. I'm disappointed!