Tuesday, April 04, 2006

There's Not a Word for It

I appeal for your help.

As any writer will understand, I am constantly chancing upon emotional and mental states for which the English language has no apt description.

Such as the state of being in which one makes repeated trips to the refrigerator with the expectation something in there will interest you. You know what I'm talking about. You're bored, you check the refrigerator. You're depressed, you check the refrigerator. You're procrastinating, you check the refrigerator.

You think you want to eat something, but there's more to it than that.

No, you check the refrigerator obsessively to see if: 1) elves have magically stocked the fridge in the three minutes that have elapsed since you checked last; 2) you've suddenly developed a craving for random foodstuffs, like wanting to eat a bowl of ketchup; or 3) there's mold. Have my provisions suddenly developed mold? Now's the time to check. Again and again and again!

There should be a name for this activity, specifically "feeling the need to check one's refrigerator (or, to a lesser extent, the pantry) several times over the course of a day as a means to relieve boredom, depression, or anxiety, or as a reason not to write."

I know that everyone partakes in this constant re-checking the refrigerator, but I don't know what to call it. "Refrigeroptimism"? "Icepectation"? "Hasfoodmagicallyappearedinmyrefrigerator"? "Masturbation"?

This inability to conjure a word bothers me greatly. Joyce and Faulkner made up words, so why can't I?

This doubly bothers me when I consider that special state of being when every single word I write is instantly crap, thus leading to an overwhelming sense of failure and depression.

This is when you write a paragraph and immediately delete it. This is also when you write a sentence and immediately delete it. And this is also when you write a single noun, verb, adjective, adverb, article or preposition and immediately delete it. "The" sucks. "Because" sucks. "Chinese delivery" sucks.

No help

Worse, one finds their entire body of work lacking in all respects, even published stories or pieces that have earned lavish praise. You read an old story in an effort to convince yourself, "Hey, this isn't bad — maybe I can write after all," only to find yourself saying, "The exhaust fumes from my Uncle Murray's Oldsmobile are better than this."

Not only does one feel like an unworthy writer, but an unworthy person, since so much of our self-image is tied into what we type. So it becomes an negative feedback loop: my writing is crap, therefore I am crap, and thus my writing is crap.

(This emotional trauma also leads one to find alternate ways to spend one's time, including such soul-enlightening activities like watching the "She's the Sheriff" marathon on TV Land. If one continues to write and delete, it eventually leads to multiple trips to the refrigerator).

There has to be a word for this bad state of affairs. And since I fancy myself a writer and cannot come up with a suitable word, this makes me all the more miserable.

"Self-loathing" doesn't cut it, because you could apply it to anybody, from painters to garbage men, and it isn't necessarily self-loathing to despise your own work (though it often is). Similar words, including "disgust," "debasement," and "depression" are also disqualified because they all start with "d."

Calling this "writer's block" doesn't work, either, because writer's block is a result of one's emotional state, not the other way around (I think). In addition, I'm trying to think of something pithy. Two words is one too many.

You may already be a wiener!

Let's review some (lame) candidates for this particular form of writer ennui:

"Writehatred:" Has a nice beat, and you can dance to it. But doesn't really get to the guts of the matter.

"Bookfraud:" "I'm feeling very bookfraud today." But I feel that way all the time.

"Typeshitting:" This may be a winner. "I'm trying to write, but it's just typeshitting." Or, "Leave me alone. I'm totally typeshit right now."

Readers here are generally intelligent souls, particularly those who find this site by Googling "joshua bell naked" or "hot man-on-man action."

If not "typeshitting," what? Any suggestions for this writer's disgust or the refrigerator obsession?

Here's what. I'll make this a contest. The winning entries will make it into a future blog entry. That's the grand prize. Second place is a set of steak knives; third place is you’re fired. (Or may I offer you a Bay City Rollers LP?)

Not enough incentive? Then the winner gets a portion of the future profits from my novel. As well as the movie rights. Not to mention the "genius award" I'm bound to get. It's all yours, for just a couple of words.