Blink. Blink. Blink. The cursor on your monitor flashes at you expectantly, almost impatiently. Suddenly you are five years old again, and your mom is standing in the doorway with her hands at her hips, tapping her toe like only a late mother can, as you frantically stuff the Lego’s she "told you to start picking up 15 minutes ago," back into the big blue bucket. You pause for a fraction of a second, doting on one of your creations, and she pulls out the big guns: your full name. Nothing turns a lollygagging child into an organizational genius better than their own handle, broken down monosyllabicly with terrifying inflection.
You stare at the blank wordprocessor page on the screen, it’s emptiness overwhelming. Though it seems like forever ago, you can still remember a time when that white glare was your friend, a blank canvas of limitless potential where your words seemed to come to life as easily as one of Bob Ross’s half-hour masterpieces on The Joy of Painting. You wrote with reckless abandon, the stories picking up where a certain crash landing forced your body to leave off. And you scoffed at the term "writer’s block," because something like that would require taking yourself seriously, which just wasn’t your style. Life was nothing but happy little trees. But now? Shit.
Now you’ve been recognized. Now you have an audience. Now you have an agent. Now you’re a writer, and your twisted little brain has somehow taken all this encouragement and praise and transformed it into suffocating pressure that is choking off that link between your voice and this empty page. The overactive mind that you once relied on has now become your worst enemy, overanalyzing every fucking word that comes out of your mouth. Instead of pouring out your thoughts all at once, you edit as you go, trying so hard to craft every sentence so perfectly that you just wind up frustrated after one paragraph and ultimately give up.
You’ve been avoiding your site altogether lately because the mere thought of writing nearly induces a full-blown anxiety attack. Every time you do happen to open the page, you are overcome with confusion, self-doubt and, of all things, fear. You can’t help the feeling that there’s a book locked somewhere deep inside of you that you will never be able to get it out, and you’re going to wake up 20 years from now only to realize you’ve missed out on a huge opportunity and wasted an even bigger talent. You read your old stuff, and think to yourself, what happened to that guy?
So when your agent e-mailed you a while back about a 12-week online memoir writing workshop starting next Wednesday, you were initially intrigued. But that feeling proved fleeting as you began reading the course syllabus: "By the end of class, students can expect to have: an outline, 50 pages of a memoir and the knowledge they need to approach literary agents and/or publishing houses." Yeah right. You’re having enough trouble getting a five paragraph blog out once a month, what makes you think you’ll suddenly spit out 50 pages or so in three? Fortunately, your agent has a lot more faith in your writing than you do.
She tells you this is a chance to recapture the voice you miss so much. Put your blog on hold for a while, get rid of all that pressure and maybe, just maybe, you’ll find a way back to you. Could it wind up being a complete waste of three months and six hundred bucks; or the very answer you’ve been looking for? You’ll never know until you try, right? You realize she has a point (and that she rocks), and sign-up for the class.
For the majority of your life, sports were your art… now, you need to start treating your art as a sport. If you can figure out a way to push your mind like you pushed your body all those years, maybe one day you’ll look back on all this as just a phase. You take one last look at the cursor, close your eyes, and start to talk…
47 Comments Add yours
I can relate. Granted I am not as famous in blog land as yourself, but I can relate. You are an inspiration to many…Use the pressure and anxiety as the fuel that fires the challenge within you. From all I have read in your blogs, the one thing I have always seen is that you don\’t back down. Someone says you can\’t – you show them you can and WILL!! You are right, treat this like a sport, let the challenge take hold!You do know you have it within you, just like in wrestling! Best of Luck Kenny!~Kate
So glad that you are OK. I check in on you every day and when I don\’t see anything from you (especially after your last health scare) I wonder if you are OK….so glad you are! I\’m sure everyone telling you to "just relax, write what you\’re thinking, don\’t push it" etc. etc. doesn\’t help one bit, so I won\’t say it. Your writing is amazing, I can\’t wait to read your book (let us know when it comes out) I\’m sure that it will be awesome….even if it takes you ten years to write it! Good luck, stay healthy and stay in touch with us.
I\’m a good reader. I\’m not a writer. I don\’t have the imagination to be a writer. I don\’t know if you want to write fact or fiction. I believe that you would be excellent at editorial writing. You have the capacity to take a moment in time and capture that moment completely.
However, if you wanted to write fiction…
If I lost mobility and had the ability to create stories, I would live out all my dreams through my writing.
I hope you attend the workshop. It\’s a chance to learn and grow.
Best Wishes, Kim
Go for it man. As long as you keep grabbing ahold of opportunities like this workshop things will turn out great for you. Writing most always comes from life experience I think. The more you go out and experience life, the more the creative energy will flow. Just keep swimmin\’. 🙂
I suck at writing so I have no words of wisdom. Aren\’t I helpful?
But, I do think the workshop sounds like a good idea because you\’re obviously interested in it. At the least, you\’re curious. Outlines… blech. (See? Writing isn\’t my thing… haha)
Take care, superstar…
Hi Kenny, I read your blog last month and stopped back to see if you\’d updated anything. The writing will come, and if you can\’t update the blog as often people will understand. I write for a living, and there are times that it just seems like I can\’t get anything down–granted it\’s technical crap rather than the beautiful words that you\’ve written. I\’m looking forward to reading your book when you get it published.
You\’ve got a lot of fans rooting for you out in cyberspace. I\’ll stop by more often.
My favorite pictures are of you and your niece (as an infant – younger) sleeping, you feeding her the bottle, and you walking with the toddlers.
Today I took time to check our your angels, and I loved the photos. Your family should be proud of such beautiful angels. I loved everything about the pictures of the girls … and the sweet innocence that sang out gently.
Thanks for sharing, Kenny. It was a peaceful moment in my day.
God bless you and keep you,
No pressure intended — but super piece. 🙂
The block never goes away completely — "they" say. I wish I could remember the quote exactly, but Raymond on "Everybody Loves…" but it made me go "uh-huh" when he said something like, "Writing is sooo hARRRRdd." 🙂
I appreciate your blog more then you know, but everything you type does not have to be some prophetic words that will inspire your generation. I for one (and I bet alot of your "followers" ) would just like to know how your days are going..
I am a chiropractor in Michigan and a 17 y.o patient became a quad this past summer after diving into a lake..he, like you had a promising fute as an athlete (already had a full scholorship waiting) and your blog helped me understand what he would be going through. Anyway, just remember that we all wait for your words on paper (cyber paper) and remember..they do not all have to be diamonds.
P.S Some recent pics would be awesome too
See ya buddy
I\’m dating a quad and I came here to get a better understanding of what he goes through/has gone through in his experiences. Personally, I would just like to hear about you. Nothing fancy, nothing pulitzer-prize worthy — just Kenny. Raw, honest stuff about what this life is like on a daily basis.
I know what it\’s like to a degree but I am always open to learning more. Things are hard on this end too sometimes. It\’s probably weird to open yourself up on the internet and be so honest, but I just want you to know it has not gone unappreciated. I think everyone takes a bit of what they\’ve read here and uses it in some way. I\’d like to thank you for what this site has given me. A better understanding of the man I\’m with.
Don\’t write as though you\’re getting graded or you have to please anyone. Just write what\’s in your head. Just be you. If you can\’t be yourself, who can you be anyways, right?
Have a great weekend,
I\’m sure you are getting annoyed with my comments, since I just became familiar with your blog…but I am just so moved by your writing ABILITY! It is just amazing. I am a 40 year old mother of two young boys, so I am obviously not your target audience….but your writing is so compelling that I can\’t quit until I\’ve read the entire blog!! Just the little I\’ve read so far has made me laugh and cry uncontrollabling at different times….And at first I had no idea you were a quadriplegic….I am just so moved by the way you can tell a story…or at least the way you tell your story. And like I said, I didn\’t realize you were a quadriplegic at first, bc I read blog entries that didn\’t mention it…..and those entries were absolutley so REAL and just like I would feel or anyone would feel!! That is why I believe you were a writer in your soul always….and maybe the consequences of your life caused you to give that gift to the world…I certainly cannot say, but I can say that I have never felt so \’in the moment\’ and moved by any other person\’s writing…and maybe I\’m a little jealous, bc I have a fear of putting my words and feelings on paper (per se)…and your blog is the first I\’ve ever read that is so close to how I would write myself!! That\’s why I asked you the question about the voice recognition…There is an insight and honesty and true feeling about what you write and that really moves me…so in short…I really admire you…in so many ways…..you are a breath of fresh air, where oxygen is most needed…
Go for it Kenny!
I also have to mentally project myself back to those difficult athletic endeavors from high school. It friggin works man. I love that you\’re applying that same will to this project for yourself…KUDOS!!
good luck to you!
its funny you talk about reading you past blogs. i found myself doing that on the weekend and wondering the same things as you. one day i found myself sitting in front of this box thinking not about what i wanted to write, rather what people might want to read. and that sucks.
as for the blog above. i could see it being an intro or something of the sort for a memoir. it sets a good tone for the honesty to follow.
no worries brother, you live for the fourth quarter.
Gosh Kenny –
Dont pressure yourself, just be yourself.
The writing, the creativity – It\’s all there …. we all ( out here) know it …. I know you do too…. it will come ..it will be fantastic
…..no worries….. you have what it takes.
You will do great !Vicki
hope you\’re staying dry – by the looks of the news – somebody\’s supposed to be building an ark! take care :0)
God never said that there would not be fear. He just asks us to do it afraid!
I love your writing. I am proud of you.
KennyI hope the class opens the avenues of awesome intriguing and captivating stories you have inside of you! I also hope you are healed I know it was awhile ago but cellulitis is ick! keep shining Kenny take care! Michaela
You\’re (you can\’t have changed so much that your face isn\’t the same) one hunk of a man there. I found your blog a few days ago. Addicted! You\’re fantastic. I think I\’m in love…*sigh*
I came here by way of Yvonne\’s space and I love what I\’ve found. Writer\’s block is like slamming full face into a concrete wall, isn\’t it? It seems you have many adoring friends here which is one of God\’s beautiful blessings to you. Thank you for opening the door to your world so we could all poke our heads through and take a peek around. You are a wonderfully gifted person. God bless.
sometimes we are all blank…
:o) smiles are contagious…pass one to people that you love and those you don\’t… :o)
How\’d I end up on your space. Not sure, but maybe I was led by who knows what. I read some early blogs and was very excited to see you mention Lake Tapps and Dierenger Middle School. My husband practically grew up on Tapps. He loves to tell me stories of taking guests water-skiing on the warm side of the lake and then crossing the line to the glacial side, and then… the …boat … slows … down……….. (What practical jokers my inlaws are.) You are a very gifted writer. I will be visiting you again.
like bob use to say, "its your world" do whatever you like. Whatever makes you feel good. I loved that show. HE was a great artist, like you are. Fuck the pressure, do it for you and nobody else, if it becomes a burden then it aint even worth doing.
do it bc you love it…."it\’s your world"
Just dropping in to say Hi.
Writer\’s block sucks, this is true. But the way you express it doesn\’t. That\’s the thing. Even when the topic isn\’t profound, your "voice" is just something that naturally engages people. As I read this entry, I glanced over to the right, to the list of things you miss… and I couldn\’t help but think that each one of those things must have a story behind it. And if those stories have yet to be put onto paper, then how many more must there be in there with them? Not to mention the ones that are yet to happen to you… I know it\’s hard to make it happen on demand — but rest assured, it\’ll all come pouring out when you least expect it. Until then, just remember that every day is a new story in the making!Catherine
"The longest journey begins with…" etc. etc. We have all been there Kenny. Writers block. Feeling the pressure to perform. Afraid of letting people down.
Of course in MY case, it\’s more a a microcosm of what you must be going through, since I don\’t have an agent, I don\’t have any made-for-TV movie deals waiting in the wings, and I only have about a dozen regular readers on my site. (laughing)
Nonetheless, believe me when I say I CAN relate. All the more so when every once in awhile I step up to the plate and knock one outta the park! Doesn\’t happen often, but when it does my first thought is always: "Damn! That\’s GOOD!" or "Damn! That\’s FUNNY!", and my next thought is always: "THAT\’S gonna be a tough act to follow!"
I\’m told Hemingway had a routine which he followed religiously: He FORCED himself to write at least 500 words a day, EVERY day, no matter what.
Since he wound up with both the Pulitzer AND the Noble for literature, I\’m guessing that might be a good little drill to use.
Finally, regarding the pressure you say you\’re feeling, here\’s a tip for you: It\’s coming from YOU, not from us. OK? You\’re just gonna have to trust me on this one… (Actually, I know that YOU know that that is true)
So… stop whining, shut the fugg up and take your seat, and start writing!
But NO pressure… (LMAO)
Wow! You have summed up many of my frustrations in one paragraph. Although I do not have an agent, as I really do not have real writing talent, I had significant encouragement to develop my writing ability when I was in school, and this "encouragement and praise" ultimately led to my self-destructive, overanalysis of everything I was writing. It wasn\’t until recently that I once again began to just simply dictate what I was thinking and not worry so much about what the end product actually looked like. I usually do this more effectively in my online journal, but I have been trying to employ this process somewhat in my own blog.
Many people might be touched by this particular entry, but I don\’t believe the majority of them get all the references to voice activation. It is amazing to me how you are able to take an empty canvas and make it into a work of art.
Things are going great for me and hopefully they will continue in this direction. I can only hope everything works out for you. It is difficult to hear, especially from someone like myself who has constantly been told the same thing over and over again, but you are truly inspirational to me. And please believe me when I tell you this, I do not heap praise on people arbitrarily.
Bob Ross I just caught him on PBS last week. I bet there were days that he did not know what to paint but he still managed to create some pretty impressive landscapes. Think "happy, little clouds" and it may alleviate some of that suffocating pressure!
I added some profile info so that I do not have to post anonymously! Get to writing so I can comment.
Just stoppin\’ by to say hi and that "I heart K-Sal."
Hey Kenny! Hope all is well with you.. Just popping in the say howdy.. Have a good one dude..
God made each one of us unique.
It is your heart that draws people to read.
We must always remember that we are all created as a three-part being. We have a spirit, have a soul, that is in a body.
Your spirit from God (your heart) is what has you carrying on inside of your earth suit. No matter what condition of our \’earth suits\’ we can still share from our souls (mind, will, and emotions). Our hearts draw from God\’s Spirit. Some hear that \’still small voice\’ of Him, better than others because they spend more time with Him. Where as our mind, will, and emotions share what we are feeling and think about stuff.
As you continue to write… “Just be you”
Geesh…I came by to wish you ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ because it has been almost a year since I started blogging and you came by for a visit. You have been a blessing in my life to reflect more. Whether here or in heaven…One day We will race in a 100 yard dash. Watch out!!! I was a real fast one.
Blessings to you and your loved ones…Greg
There are many people that believe in you or you wouldn\’t have the fans that you have. I don\’t think that you should under estimate the fact that for some reason everything that rolls out of your mouth, people listen to it. You are an intelligent man and I look forward to your future. I hope you have an amazing Thanksgiving as you deserve.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Ken doll. I hope you\’re surrounded by family and friends. 🙂
Hey! I was a featured Space last month…but for some reason, I didn\’t get the reaction you always get…hehe.
Happy Thanksgiving Kenny! I\’m hoping your day is wonderful, and filled with love.
Your writing touches us, because it comes from your heart. You\’re intelligent, and have a great sense of humor (I love smart ass and witty)
How\’s the class going, or how did the class go? We all have faith in you, and enjoy your thoughts/writing. It\’s why we come back. BIG HUGS, Steph
Happy Thanksgiving… Longtime reader first time commenter. Thanks for being so honest in your writing… I love reading your site. Hope you write something new soon.
"No it\’s a cardigan but thanks for noticing"
hey kenny, its just me. hope you enjoyed your thanksgiving with family. my prayers are with you and I have faith that you are going to succeed in all you do. when you get anxious just close your eyes and think back to those days when you were still on the vent and going through all the rehab and then fast forward to today, you have come so far. I want you to know that you are the one patient that I still think about and am amazed at your progress and how far you have come. you have had both good and bad days but you got through each day. I always said you should write a book. And it looks like that may one day become reality… no I should not say "may" but "will" become reality.
good luck to you I know you will succeed.
Hoping you had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday. You\’ve been in my thoughts often since I first encountered your space, but then I imagine you\’ve touched many, many people that way. Take care of yourself and like Melody, I can\’t wait for the book! 😉
Hello Kenny. I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving and ate lots of turkey. I love spending the holidays with family. They are so special this time of year.
What happened to Davina? I miss seeing her sweet comments to you. I hope she is doing well.
Please do not feel pressured in writing. Although you have your fans who eagerly await each entry, they are not in a hurry and it is always nice visiting this space since you are such a terrific guy.
um – how\’s that perfection going? i hope you\’re doing okay.. take care
just perfect!! always making me smile muaaaah! i hope your ok byeeeeeee
Hiya Kennya little weird asking on here, but i haven\’t been able to access Marisa\’s blog in a while and she hasn\’t responded to emails, have you gotten any news from her? How is she?
Just sayin hi and missin\’ ya. Hope you are well.
Happy Holidays, Kenny ~I pray that all is well with you. People are going to want to know about all the intimate details of your life. It seems that we always want to know everything about people who are talented. We desire to know anything and everything … perhaps in hopes of emulating them.May the Lord bless you and keep you,Nae :o)
You go Kenny. I think you can do it.
happy holidays kind soul…..
you\’re an incredible writer, kenny. loads of true talent in there. i know it sounds so clichéd, but really it\’s true: feel the fear and do it anyway. i for one would be so excited to see what you have to say. i haven\’t been able to walk for 8 months and so reading has naturally become a daily routine. your writing has both amused and amazed me. i\’ve laughed out loud at your humor and tight grasp on reality and cried equally for the same reasons. just reading your posts, for a few moments, i feel normal. you have a real gift. share it.