In Which I Compare My Writing Process to Passing a Kidney Stone

Here’s a painful trivia item about me: I’ve had a rough time with kidney stones. I passed my first one at the age of 17. I passed my most recent one four days ago. In the time between, I have honestly lost count but I think my grand total comes in at around 14 stones passed.

For those not well-informed on kidney stones, here are the basics (and I promise that writerly-type stuff is coming).

According to the three different doctors I’ve seen about the condition, the stones are caused by a lot of different things but mostly nutritional kind of stuff.  Too much calcium, not enough water, things like that. It also doesn’t help that I live within an area known as the Kidney Stone Belt. In this area, I believe the stat is something like every 1 in 5 people will pass stones in their lifetime. Something literally in the water, I think. A very small percentage will ever actually be bothered with them because what they pass is so small.

Not me.

The one I passed four days ago was about the size of a sharpened pencil tip. It was not smooth. It was barbed and sharp and jagged. Which means it broke off of another, larger stone that I can look forward to dealing with sometime in the future. (I have passed whole, unbroken ones. They are no easier. The one I had lythotrypsy for last year was the size of a large pea).

The one I passed four days ago snuck up on me. I didn’t know it was there until it was already tied up in the water works. The one last year that required the hospital visit let me know it was there four days in advance. Imagine being heel kicked squarely in the back by Chuck Norris after  he has chugged a few energy drinks. That’s what it feels like when the stone is working its way out of your kidney.

Now, the writing stuff.

As of late, I’m being told by a few writers and am also reading blogs and articles that equate a large part of self-publishing success to a) luck and b) the volume of work you have available. I’m screwed on both these ends because I am not lucky (as is evident in the kidney stone department, for one) and don’t have many books available (5).

The volume thing is my own fault. I get too many ideas and I don’t know how to make them shut up. What eventually happens is I try to work on too many projects at once and end up getting my brain clogged up…much like my “plumbing” when a kidney stone breaks off inside my kidneys and tries to find a way out. Oh yeah, that’s another great thing about kidney stones; the larger ones takes roughly 3 days to make the trip from the kidney to the toilet…if you can pass them manually at all (something I do not recommend without some type of medication).

If I were a smart and tactful writer, I could have released two titles between August of 2012 and now. But instead, I got involved in writing the faith-based book I have mentioned here before. I also started writing the series I am calling Legends Lost.  I also wrote Streets of Blood, my dead man book. I should have been knocking out Everything Theory 3 and the other novel I spent a bit of 2012 working on. Instead, I elected to work on four things. It clogged up my productivity. And the work situation didn’t help, either. Freelance writing is a time-suck like no other.

And watching my salesremain stagnant…it’s not quite as painful as passing a kidney stone but it’s not pleasant, either.

The good thing, though…during the moment where the stone is passed, when you’re standing at the toilet, teeth grinding as you pray that you won’t pass out and that the pain will be quick and merciful, there is a huge relief immediately afterwards. Imagine if you will a water hose with a rock stuck in it. The water will stop flowing out when it comes to the rock but the pressure of the water building up behind it will eventually force the rock out. That’s exactly what happens when a stone is passed.

Creatively, that’s how I feel right now. Working on all of those different projects has finally started to work out collectively. In the next few months, if nothing changes, there should be a trickle, a stop, and then the stone will come out and the labor of the last few months will be seen.

So for the creatives out there…baring the horrendous analogy, what methods do you have to get over the creative clogging of your pipes?

 

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One comment

  1. Horrendous analogy indeed. I’m still wincing. I work in a similar way to you, but with cover art. I have it down a bit more though I think. Generally I’ll work on 3 or 4 layouts and then the tweaks as they come in. Which ever one gets the green light first I go on and finish. If they all get the green light I do the one that I like best (unless there is a deadline in which case deadlines dictate order). so its not that you are working in a bad way. maybe you just need to break down your system a little more to make it more practical.

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