Annie La Ganga: On Ritual
Writer Annie La Ganga (right) with writer Bill Cotter
“I used to hate writing. It was just so hard to sit still. Now that I’m fatter, I like it. It’s one of the things I can do that doesn’t make me winded. It’s easier than climbing stairs or taking a shower. I can do it lying down. I’ve learned to just do it. I’m like a Nike ad, only out of shape and tired. I trust myself now. I think that’s what I’m really trying to say. I don’t have to fight a war with my subconscious every time I lie down to write. I no longer feel like I have to prove something to my shaming critical mother complex just to send a fucking email. For me, the battle of writing has never had anything to do with being out of ideas or things to say, or having to work sixteen hours a day and raise small children on a budget or anything even remotely heroic or reality-based. The battle has always been about trying to beat down doubt and anxiety and self-loathing long enough to squeeze a few lines out before I drop into a major depressive episode. Occasionally, I would enjoy a seizure of writing when whole pages popped out earnest and angry and good but usually, on a day to day trying to amass a coherent body of work over a decade kind of way, I failed to produce anything but whining about not being able to write anything that wasn’t about not being able to write. The reason it’s not like that anymore is because I kept writing and I kept going to therapy and finally I got a career coach who made me do collages and use an egg timer to meditate for ten minutes and write with my non-dominant hand and do all that kind of crap. She was awesome. I did everything she said to do because she terrified me. After working together for about a year, she made me pick a deadline to have a completed manuscript. There was something about the deadline with her that mattered to me. I felt that I had truly reached a bottom, I had to pay a stranger to make me finish a book and if that didn’t work I would really be fucked. I finished the book. It got published. Nothing significant changed in my life except that I got fatter and now it’s no big deal to write.”
Yesterday: Bill Cotter On Ritual. (Annie calls Bill Cotter “Billy.”)
All this year: Happy 2011
, ever’body! Hope yours is like a Nike ad, only out of shape and tired. Just like Annie says.
On Ritual at Big Other
Is it true, dear writer? Do people in all walks of life find that “starting off with a simple, ordered routine establishes a mindset which helps get any job done”? Questia claims it’s so (August 2009). I remain on a mission to prove or debunk the notion.
Help me. Jot down your writing ritual (or not). We’ll discover–and let readers know, finally and forever–if rituals really do pay off.
- 300 word limit.
- Rolling deadline.
- Recommend others.
- Reply with a pic of you–in your workspace or in outer space.
- Replies, questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org
Previously ritualized: Bill Cotter, Mary Hamilton, Emma Straub, Marcy Dermansky, Nicolle Elizabeth, Gabriel Orgrease, Michael Leong
*Some responses may be eligible for posting at American Short Fiction blog, where I began the On Ritual series.