Hipstercrite Life

Creative Block or Fodder? When Life’s Challenges Affect Your Writing

Ah, writer’s block.

You never know when it’s going to hit.

The current writer’s block that reared its ugly head last week after a homeless man tried getting into my house while I was taking a shower, was actually a long time coming.

I wish I could pin it entirely on the homeless man, but in reality, he’s maybe only 50% of the blockage traveling through my creative vein right now.

The homeless man has preoccupied my thoughts.

Though he is not a danger, at least I keep telling myself, his presence has recharged any already existing fear I’ve had living on the eastside. With my fear comes the frustration that I should not live in fear in this neighborhood I love so dearly. I try to remind myself that living in a big city comes with its “character”, but within the past year, I’ve seen more sketchy shit than I have in my entire life. When I lived in Los Angeles I was shielded from the grit and grime because I lived in an apartment. In Austin, I live in a house and I’ve never felt more vulnerable- even with an alarm system and concrete walls.

I’m a shaky leaf enveloped by a large forest.

This leads to an illogical fear of being in the house alone, which summoned an old acquaintance Saturday night- the anxiety attack. Though the spell was minor, I found myself in the predicament of not being able to breath. I began hyperventilating and in my tunnel vision, recalled the last time Mr. Anxiety Attack appeared- the hour before I was to jump into my car and leave Los Angeles for the last time. From there, I was taken to the thought of Esme Barrera, the young woman who was killed earlier this year in her house in Central Austin. Though the assumed murderer is now deceased, it reminds me that anything can happen.

Just like the man who was hit by a car as he waited outside the grocery store I go to on Sunday night. He died on the scene.

My fear of going into my house lead me to wonder where I should go if I ever felt unsafe and I realized that I wasn’t sure. I felt I had no place to escape to. Now that I’m dating someone, and that other friends are also dating, I feel that the strong connection I had with some has thinned and that asking to stay at their house would be an imposition. Though I know this is probably not true, it made me wonder if I’m doing enough to stay connected with my friends. Real friends will always be there, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tend to the life-sustaining garden.

I’ve been creatively blocked because I wanted to write about this situation, but I felt that I shouldn’t. I felt that this was a private matter, but keeping it in has only made me feel stifled.

The other 50% of my writer’s block has been a combination of lack of structure due to my freelance lifestyle, impending career changes for my boyfriend which includes 3 months of work overseas, Lionel’s further plummet into the mad world of Alzheimer’s, my grandmother and mother’s subsequent difficulty in handling it, our dying cousin’s recent development of sleeping in the fetal position with her hands clenched shut, my questioning of my writing talents and the age-old inquiry “What are my future goals?” making a nest on the top of my brain.

And though I should be taking all of these normal life moments and using them as fodder for my writing, I can’t. Because I don’t want to think about them. Because I’m afraid to acknowledge what they all mean. Because I’ve begun thinking so superficially that spending any time dwelling on what I’m actually feeling is a lot of work.

But you know what? I did just now and it felt so good.

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  • Reply Scott Tammaro February 21, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    Someone trying to break into one’s house while
    one is there would rattle most folks, including me.


    Ugh, sometimes it all just jumbles up.

    Sooner or later there’s no other choice other than to
    tip-toe or blast through it.*

    *speaking from someone who is also dealing with a block

    • Reply hipstercrite February 22, 2012 at 1:06 am

      Thanks, Scott. I honestly think writing that post was my blasting through it. Do you get writer’s block often?

      • Reply Scott Tammaro February 23, 2012 at 2:06 am

        Actually it’s photographer’s block. It’s not the 1st time, just the latest.

        I literally carried a camera everyday from ’98 to ’05 using film, then exploded with digital from ’05 to early ’09. Of course during this time I was in college so I was taking all kind of art classes (drawing, ceramics, printmaking, etc.) but the photography was a constant obsession.

        Then this approach started to run out of gas..get stale, etc.

        I tried experimenting with various approaches but never felt “connected” to them for one reason or another. Sorta bouncing around without any direction or purpose. It sucked. I reached a period last summer where I just hated even looking at the damn camera let alone using it & I did nothing.

        And then it really sucked.

        My peers suggested all kinds of things but it pretty much came down to creating SOMETHING > ANYTHING to just get the gears going again.

        So I started making cut & paste colleges & mailing them to people (LOL) but scanning them before sending the original out.

        The most important thing for me right now is to keep creating. I’m not so freaked out by not knowing what I want to do with a camera & as I lighten up I’m opening up.

        No tidy ending for this response but work begets work.

        Old School.

  • Reply Jazz One February 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    I am a poet (performance poet but not a slam poet). Sometimes I struggle with wondering if I am getting too personal with my writing. I don’t remember who it was being interviewed but he said said sometimes the more personal we write, the more universal it is. Ultimately at our cores we are very similar. We love. Want love. Been heartbroken. Feared. Etc… I lost my pops in ’08. It was hard to write about. After about a year I could finally get this piece that had been bouncing around in my head on to a computer screen. I started putting it in my live sets. It was very specific to the relationship I had with my father. I was surprised how many people connected with it. I had one guy tell me what I wrote described how he felt when he lost his father.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your work. It reminds me of how I viewed the world and things I learned along the way.
    I think we as artist, writers, whatever, we take inputs from our worlds and run it through our filters and turn it into output.

    • Reply hipstercrite February 22, 2012 at 1:07 am

      Ah man…that made well up. You’re so right.

  • Reply bard February 21, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    People are different when it comes to writing (and especially inspiration), but I can relate to some of what you are experiencing. I haven’t felt comfortable in my home environment lately, and it has sapped my creativity and ambition. I’ve tried different mental games, but so far they haven’t worked. It’s possible I may not write anything of consequence until I move!

    As Scott said, somebody attempting to break in while you are in the shower would rattle most people. And considering the struggles you’ve had with feeling secure in your home in the past, it’s no wonder that you are unsettled. I wish I could offer some helpful advice right now, but I don’t think I can. I just want you to know that I can sympathize with you, and that you are not alone.

    • Reply hipstercrite February 22, 2012 at 1:09 am

      Bard, thank you so much. Your comment really meant a lot to me. I keep wondering if I’m overreacting and some friends have acted like it’s not a big deal. I figured it was best not to talk about it but it has been consuming my brain as of lately. Do you think you will move soon?

      • Reply bard February 23, 2012 at 4:16 am

        My lease isn’t up until July, so it seems doubtful. I can leave early with a 2-month notice, but I have to pay a penalty equivalent to a month’s rent. At the moment, that isn’t really an option for me.

        As far as it being a big deal or not? Everybody is different, and has had different experiences in the past that influence how you react to such things. There was a time in my life something like that wouldn’t have bothered me very much, but now something even less than that is bothering me a great deal!

        Most people would be quite rattled by an experience like yours… and regardless, all that really matters is how you genuinely feel about it (and all of the other stuff that has been happening lately). You have to accept your emotions honestly, before you can effectively deal with them. Don’t worry about what you “should” or “shouldn’t” be feeling. Simply wishing you would feel a certain way isn’t going to change your feelings. It just isn’t that simple.

        Having said that, you CAN still work on changing them, and/or dealing with them. Professional help, talking with friends, writing about it, reading books about how you feel, religion… there are many different things you can explore. Or you can try to get into a different situation, of course.

        I wish you the best!

  • Reply michaela February 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    I share a lot of your same sentiments. It makes me feel like I’m not the only one. I know it sounds corny, but you’re very talented and you’ll get through this.

    • Reply hipstercrite February 22, 2012 at 2:50 pm

      Thanks, Michaela. Thanks for reminding me that I’m not alone.

  • Reply Kait February 24, 2012 at 12:23 am

    Okay, so this comment is less about writer’s block and more about the stress in your life–but I just want to say, oh, man. You know that song “Ooh, Child” by the Five Stairsteps? Please listen to it and know a girl in Boston read this post and was like “SHE NEEDS TO HEAR THIS RIGHT NOW.”

    It’ll get better. Never feel bad about talking to and exposing your fears to your friends, either. They may be coupled up and you may have fallen a little out of touch, but I bet they’d like to hear from you.

  • Reply Kathrine January 26, 2015 at 1:42 am

    Glad I found this, though it makes me get that tigley cryey feeling in my nose. I have so many things I don’t want to think about that I should be writing about and now I see just how desperately I need to write about them.
    In addition to this I also share insecurities about being home alone though mine are more attributed to mice and falling asleep in total darkness. An overactive imagination is a gift and a curse but any curse can be used for good, (good writing). -Much Love

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