I got a hand-me-down book called The Pocket Muse (by Monica Wood) when a fellow teacher was cleaning out her bookshelves. It's fun and interesting, and gives good ideas for writers who may be struggling with writer's block or a lack of inspiration. Something I read today really struck me:
"In Making Shapely Fiction, the witty and wonderful Jerome Stern cautions against writing the "bathtub story." A bathtub story opens with the protagonist taking a bath (or occupying a similar confined space). During this bath, the protagonist thinks of, ruminates upon, wonders about, and analyzes the past, present, future, but he never gets out of the bathtub."
(The absurdity of the fact that I just quoted an author referencing a different author is not lost on me.)
I don't really write much fiction, so I wouldn't say that I related to this as an author. I do, however, feel like my life is far too often a bathtub story. I allow myself too much to sit in a confined space and think, instead of getting out and doing. Part of this is because I'm not sure how to start getting out, so I feel like I have to spend a lot of time thinking and planning the getting out before I can actually do it. Part of this is because I'm scared, and a cozy bathtub feels much safer than the big terrifying world outside. And a big part of this is because I'm crazy, and there's so damn much going on in my thoughts that it takes all of my energy just to do the thinking and wondering and analyzing, and there's no energy left for doing.
Still, I don't want to get addicted to the bathtub. Baths are nice and all, but they're really only meant to be for once in a while. You live in a bathtub for too long and your fingers get all pruny.
I think of my life sometimes as a story - a story I'm writing day by day, in the hopes that perhaps someone might find it interesting enough to read. And I don't want my readers to be stuck with a bathtub story. What I need is to get out of the tub, dry off my pruny fingers, and do something.
I just don't know what.