November 7, 1999
Writer's Crock


I came out of the bathroom this morning with a pair of scissors in one hand and a five-inch hunk of my hair in the other hand.

"I'm cutting it all off," I somberly announced to David.

He was laying on the the bed, playing his guitar. (He has decided to teach himself to play the intro to "Walk This Way," so that has pretty much been the *background music* of this particular weekend. That, and "Melanie's Greatest Hits," which we listened to during the ninety-minute drive to Healdsburg yesterday afternoon.) Upon hearing my astonishing proclamation, however, he stopped playing in mid-riff.

"Excuse me?" he said. "You're doing WHAT?"

"I'm cutting off my hair," I said calmly. "AND I'm completely fudking it up. Look." One side brushed the top of my collarbone ... the other side hit my shoulder. There were long scraggly tendrils hanging on both sides, here and there. I had no clue what the back of it looked like: I hadn't managed to scrape up the nerve to look in the mirror yet.  The bathroom sink was filled with piles of long, Medium In-Between-Reddish Sorta-Light Brown hair. 

I looked at the sink. I looked in the mirror. And then I burst into tears.

David tossed his guitar to one side and leapt off the bed in one fluid motion. "Terri, what is wrong?" he asked, grabbing me as I stood in the bathroom doorway, wrapping me in a huge, squishy bear hug.

I just sort of sagged helplessly into him. "I have no clue," I said.

I have been *off* this entire weekend ... zooming wildly between elation and despair, energy and depletion ... humming one minute, weeping the next ... wide awake and jazzed about driving to Healdsburg for lunch, then promptly falling asleep in the car ... and I know David has been worried. I think he thinks it's something he's done. It isn't. Personally, I suspect it's 53% hormonal, as evidenced by the new crop of zits on my NECK and the little puddles of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrappers, all over The Castle. The other 47% is just the usual emotional gumbo of job stress, exhaustion, job stress, anxiety about the upcoming holidays, job stress, "family problems" (is it written into the standard divorce agreement that ex-husbands must morph into big grasping irrational babies? I ask you?) ...

... have I mentioned job stress? ...

... and -- maybe slightly more than usual, this weekend -- I've been afflicted with a little something *I* like to call "Writer's Crock."

Writer's Crock is a distressing blend of writer's block and writer's cramp ... a general malaise of creative spirit and energy, combined with acute carpal tunnel syndrome (and even more acute self-doubt) that sneaks up and bites me on the ass, every couple of years or so. I never know when it's going to hit, or how long it's going to hang around -- the last time was in 1997, after my marriage blew up, and it took almost six months (and $100 worth of Julia Cameron's "Artist's Way" program) to *recover* -- but for the duration, I feel EXTREMELY stressed, guilty and inadequate, creatively-speaking.

The less I write, the worse I feel. The worse I feel, the less I write.

And instead of writing, I try to quiet some of the storm inside of me by giving in to crazy impulses ... like closing down the website, or giving away all of my books about writing ["What am *I* gonna do with these?"], or quitting the writer's newsgroups, or cancelling my AOL account so I don't have to face all of these nice people I've been ignoring lately ...

... or dive-bombing into a box of cheap chablis ...

... or -- because I don't really feel like doing ANY of the above, but I DO need to shake things up a little bit this morning -- taking a pair of scissors to my hair.

Of course, if I weren't so "crocked" this morning -- creatively-speaking -- I would be able to write and tell you that our trip to Healdsburg yesterday was gobs of fun, and that I enjoyed the drive through the Northern California wine country: at least, the parts that I was able to stay AWAKE for ...

... and I would write about the sausage and apples I had for lunch, and how we lingered over our meal for nearly two hours ...

... and I would probably write about the fact that autumn in Healdsburg has Oregon beat by a mile ...

... but of course these are things I can't tell you about, today, because I am creatively crocked.

Oh well.

David has family obligations today, so once he'd managed to calm me down a little  --  he actually took me into the bathroom, took the scissors out of my hand and finished cutting my hair for me  --  he gave me the ultimate gift:

He went away and left me alone, here in The Castle.

It won't be for long ... a couple of hours, at the most. The Bay Area is expecting its lukewarm version of a *winter storm* this afternoon, so he is going to have to bring the kids back here for the afternoon, once they've had breakfast and briefly visit the park. But a couple hours of Alone Time certainly beats a sharp stick in the eye, *I* always say.

(Or a pair of scissors.)

In the meantime, what am I planning to do about this latest bout of creative constipation, you ask? Absolutely nothing.  I'm typing today's entry in a frenzied blur, sans editing of any sort, and when I'm finished I will post it in the same manner.  Then I'm going to shut down the computer, which has been running a little funky the past week or so and could probably use as much of a *break* as me  ... pour myself a big glass of cranberry juice, break off a hunk of Asiago cheese and curl up on the sofa with a pile of books about writing.

"Writing Down the Bones" by Natalie Goldberg. "Writing Past Dark," Bonnie Friedman. A little book of meditations called "Walking On Alligators," which was the first book David ever bought for me.  Suzanne Lipsett's "Surviving a Writer's Life." An anthology I bought a few weeks ago, "The Writer on Her Work," with essays by notable women writers on "what it means to be a woman and a writer." ("That's something YOU'LL never be!" shrieks my Inner Critic.) The fabulously practical "If You Can Talk, You Can Write" by Joel Saltzman.

And of course, my very very very most favorite: "Bird by Bird," by Anne Lamott.

Will it change anything? I dunno. It's like they say: "A writer writes." A writer doesn't just talk about writing, or think about writing, or even READ about writing. A writer writes, period. But in this particular instance -- this particular weekend -- I think it might help to listen to some different voices for a little while ... if only to quiet the shrieking/goading/rationalizing/self-doubting/you-couldn't-write-your-way-out-of-a-paper-bag (unless-it-contained-a-bottle-of-*ALMADEN*) voices in my own head.

And if all else fails ... I can always cut my hair some more.

self-important blurb #1 will go HERE: bear with me. i'll snap out of this one soon. in the meantime, if you don't hear from me for a while ... please don't call 911 [or Vidal Sassoon]. i'm going to be extremely busy with family stuff for the next couple of weeks -- including visits from two out of three Tots, commencing this week -- and the journal entries may be even fewer & farther in between than usual. but i will ALWAYS be back.

god help us all.

self-important blurb #2 -- probably having something to do with the WEATHER: well .. it's 1:30 p.m. and the "storm" is here. mostly it's a lot of wind, blowing leaves into the SWIMMING POOL. sheesh. 

here's where i'll ask a *relevant* question:
coming to the bay area in the near [or not-so-near] future? have dinner w/draftervoi & secraterri ... and a dark, poorly-scanned polaroid photo of *you* could appear on *footnotes*!
make your reservations early!

amazingly profound thought of the day: "No artist is pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others." ~ Martha Graham ~