Monday, July 27, 2009

Mojo No Go

For the past several months or so (shoot, lets just say since late summer '08) most of the writing related posts on the blog have been relatively upbeat/positive/informative/downright goofy. Some have even made you think really hard to come up with a good answer.

I've asked you over that time things like why did you pick your particular niche/genre; why you got into writing; your opinion on my writing; whether or not I should post certain types of stories here; even asked for input on how to write sex without turning people off. I've even made a thinking out loud post that really didn't have any question to it.

Today's post is a bit more challenging, simply because it deals with a negative aspect of writing. Negative meaning something that you truly detest and that you try your damnedest to avoid coming into any contact with it.

I was talking to a co-worker the other day about how I spent my last couple of furlough days (for the uninformed, our state is facing a deficit of about 7 billion dollars over the next couple of years. we as state employees gave one day back in FY '09, and are giving back three days for the next two fiscal years). I spent the past two (May 22nd and July 6th) simply walking around town trying to find a quiet spot to do some writing.

Each time my journeys have brought me to the center of town, or to be more precise, the official town park where the town pools and playgrounds are, along with the gazebo, ball fields and waterfalls. Almost everywhere else that I've gone in the past couple of years to do my writing has been positive and rewarding.

Except at the playground.

At the playground, my inspiration for the past thirteen months there has been all negative. No positive reinforcement, no happy sensible writing, and definitely no stories exploring God, Nature, and the opposite sex. Instead, it's all been incredibly nasty and negative.

To explain: Back in June of last year, I was doing the daddy day care thing at the park (family was on a cruise to the Bahamas I believe), when I had the unfortunate experience of coming into contact with the local constabulary. Please click on the link for the entire sordid story. Anyways, since then, absolutely nothing even remotely resembling a positive/happy story has oozed from my pen. All things nasty and extremely negative have oozed from my pen whenever I had the misfortune of spending any time at the playground (only the playground does this happen, nowhere else in the park).

Example #1: The short story Disconnected had its beginnings while I was at the playground one day, which I finished up at home. The rottenness that oozed from my pen while I was there, continued to ooze rottenness when I finished it a few hours later at home (where do you think the ending came from? the same rottenness that permeated the story, seeped into my brain and caused me to write a somewhat disturbing ending).

Example #2: I wrote another short story on the 5/22 furlough day, entitled appropriately enough, The Furlough Day. Friends, this story is probably the only piece of non-fiction that you will see grace my other blog. As a matter of record, I started this story there, worked on it some more when I had lunch in the center, then actually finished it while walking home. I think it's the first and only time that I wrote a story (about two and a half pages) in exactly one total hour.

My mojo is so utterly devoid of anything positive that now I can't even start a story there (at the playground) for fear of having an encounter with the police, and having said police take a glimpse at the content of my notebook. For better or worse, the depraved side of my writing comes out whenever I make a stop at the playground. And that, my friends, really does scare me.

I actually started another one on that 7/6 furlough day while at the playground, thinking that perhaps the lack of children there would somehow be beneficial and break that rotten mojo of mine. No dice, as about twenty minutes after I got there, the kiddies invaded the playground and I took my leave of absence. Funny thing is, I don't remember what story I started on that particular day, but I'm pretty sure I finished it later in the week.

So my question to all of you is this: Did you experience something somewhere that was so negative that whenever you tried to revisit the scene of the crime that it still seriously impacted you and your writing until you got away from it?


  1. I'm not being facetious when I say that my first serious relationship with a woman produced that. For many, many years I could not write anything featuring a character like that without it ending negatively.

    I can't think of a particular place like that, though.

  2. G -

    I am sorry you had that experience. Since I am not a writer by profession, I haven't really had that kind of experience, ie. one that would impact the kind of things I write.

    I have had occurances that have shaken my faith in people though and certainly affected the way I feel about places.

  3. Being a writer, you are naturally a perceptive and visual person. I fear that the playground will always bring back that negative experience to you. I know it would for me too. I still write alone at my dining room table. I haven't ventured outdoors to write, so I don't have an experience to share. However, I do find that certain negative memories will creep into my consciousness when I'm writing. In a way, that "scene of the crime" follows me and has affected the tone and possibly quality of my writing. It's a shame that the playground is now a difficult place for you to sit happily as you write. As a playground mom, I think it's terrible how those mothers were so quick to categorize you as someone suspicious. As I write this comment, I'm wondering if maybe you should go back to the playground and write about your experience as a "Letter to the Editor" for your town paper. It would make people aware of this ignorant behavior, and possibly purge the negativity for you.

  4. Charles: I can relate to personal relationships affecting one's writing. I had serious problems with a few people about three years ago, and I spent about a year plus writing really angry stuff. I still feel that way to a small degree to those few people, but it takes a lot of self restraint not to go down that particular road with my writing.

    Lynn: I would have to agree with you about having the episodes that you describe. I've experienced a few of those throughout the years, and it definitely can impact your day to day existance.

    Septembermom: I can understand a little as to why they did it, but overall, it the negatives more than outweigh the positives in the situation.

    Not too completely rehash the situation, but there were a lot of other fathers at the playground with their children. Now I may have moved around a bit in order to keep an eye on my daughter (as you well know, kids under the age of 8 have a ton of excess energy), but that certainly doesn't make me a potentially bad person.

    For a few weeks afterwards, I did seriously consider going to the police to find out who made the calls to begin with.

    In any event, I'm not sure if I could do what you suggested right now, even though its a very good suggesion. I'm still a little upset about it (even one year later) and I have a tendency to go super negative when I write while in this state of mind.

  5. It's unfortunate that something that should have been a good experience turned out so horrifically. Because it is horrific to be thought of as something so vile. I can only think that some people completely over-react and don't think of the consequences of their over-reactions.

    I don't have a place that taints my writing, but I have had negative experiences that have. I mostly wrote through them. In the end, though, it takes time. It's cathartic and not necessarily writing that I've ever thought of selling, but I've learned things about myself and it's provided different views of life with which to draw upon for future characters. You end up in dark places that you didn't know existed and eventually you shine some light around and the illumination is revealing and can be a source of inspiration.

  6. I can see how that would make you feel weird about going back.

    I like the letter to the editor idea, that might at least get it better in your mind. Or a bit of peace with it. Maybe you'd even feel like going back.

  7. Talon: It was especially horrific, on a multiple of levels, one of which was my job.

    I work at a child protection agency (state level) and to have them even get remotely involved would have been disasterous.

    I will agree with you about winding up in dark places for your writing, though. I don't know about it being a source of inspiration other than negative.

    Jannie: It does sound like a good idea, but probably it should have been done last year at that time, as opposed to some 13 months later, when I would come off as having a major disconnect with reality.

  8. I have a FB contact that I went to school with that in the year that I was friends with her, she never had a single upbeat status. It was always "I feel down" or "I feel ill" or "poor poor me". I actually got to the point where I couldnt write after seeing her status because it would wind me up...which doesnt help when you are writing (well...trying, even if failing) to write a humour site. Strangely, she is no longer on my friends list. But her name does get me back in the mood!

  9. Hey Sy! Long time no see (well not really, since we're on FB)!

    That sounds like a major washout. I can relate to that as I got long time friend of the family who can never be quite positive about anything. Can never quite give a compliment either.

    My main issue with the playground is that no matter how hard I try, the bad vibes just keep seeping into the writing. As soon as I walk away from the area and go to like the waterfall or simply walk around the pond, presto! no more negative vibes.

  10. I'm a basically upbeat person, so the negative or dark places that I've been forced to visit have been helpful in fleshing out characters with attributes I don't have. It gives me a sense of what it might be like to be dark or negative. It's a way of taking back control and using an unsavory experience in a positive way.

  11. Sounds like you managed to turn a negative into a positive quite well.

    For now, I think that if I'm gonna continue visiting the park (and I usually do during the summer and fall), I'll probably stick with the waterfall as a good resting point to write.

    That way, I can still stay relatively skewered with my writing without crossing that particular line.

  12. Why is it that people want to tell you all the gory details of their divorce on Facebook?

  13. Thats a new on me. You must move in different circles on FB than I do.

    If you're up to it, I think I got mojo straightened out of facebook (I hope). I had to redo my name so hopefully people can find me properly on FB by using my real name. I know I'm on there somewhere.

  14. Just wanted to say hello! I am glad to see you are still writing. Well...who says writing needs to be happy or positive? Some of the best writings can come from places of great turmoil, pain, and unrest.

    I need to catch up with your writings to really know the full story.

    But anyways...just wanted to say howdy. Hope you are having a good summer.

  15. Hi M.M.! So glad that you stopped by to say hi.

    While this is mostly true about writing not always needing to be happy or positive, there is a fine line between slightly negative and downright nasty/violent.

    I'm still trying to find that proper balance and until I do, I want to limit my exposure to the things that push me over the edge like that.

    Anyways, I hope your summer is going smoothly for you.


Go on, give me your best shot. I can take it. If I couldn't, I wouldn't have created this wonderful little blog that you decided to grace with your presence today.

About that comment moderation thingy: While yes, it does say up above I can take it, I only use it to prevent the occasional miscreant from leaving thoughtless and/or clueless comments.

So remember, all of your comments are greatly appreciated and all answers will be given that personal touch that you come to expect and enjoy.

G. B. Miller

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-17 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at