Saturday, May 26, 2007


(Warning: Long Post Ahead)
I was listening to This American Life's podcast for this week -- about road trips -- and in one of the stories this couple talked about a feeling of malaise they experienced at one time in their relationship. That's a good word, malaise. I think it describes something I've been feeling lately. Here's how the dictionary defines malaise: a general feeling of discomfort, illness, or uneasiness whose exact cause is difficult to identify.

Now before you suggest I consider medication, let me say that there's nothing majorly wrong with me. I'm generally happy, functional and no weirder than usual. But I've felt somewhat unsettled and restless lately and I'm not sure why. Because, as I just said, I'm fine. Life is no more stressful than usual and I even have had several kinds of good things happen: John graduated from college, I have a story coming in Coach's Midnight Diner, I finished another story and submitted it to another magazine, and there's been another bit of good news that is not writing related that I might blog about in a few weeks.

I also happen to think that these unsettled times can be worthwhile -- most of the time I'm not motivated to make changes when everything is going smoothly and I feel that all is right and settled in the world. Sometimes the unsettled feeling is God nudging me, sometimes not. I'm not sure which this is right now. I am inclined to think that this feeling is related to a need for more creativity in my life -- specifically writing. Yes, I just said I finished a story and submitted it somewhere this week, but it's a story I've been working on since before Christmas and I had it mostly finished several weeks ago.

Then there's the whole what-genre-do-I-write issue. I've written mysteries and fantasy and science-fiction -- whatever genre, though, they're all character-driven. But I wonder if I need to focus my efforts in one direction. I think I have a dread of being pigeonholed into one type of story. Or, maybe I just over-analyze everything.

I'm not comfortable talking about having a "calling" to write. I believe God gave me a talent and I should use it for him. I'm happy when I write, I have stories I want to tell -- maybe they're even stories other people might want to read. But if I'm going to do this, I need to develop some discipline and that's always a hard thing for me. Coach Culbertson (of Coach's Midnight Diner and the Relief Writer's Network) is doing something called NaNo Spring Training in a couple of weeks -- 10,000 words in 7 days. This seems like a good way to kick off a summer of writing. And maybe a summer of writing will be a good start to more disciplined writing in the future.

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