Got a problem? Dr. Jim has
Please allow me to introduce
myself: My name is James E. Robinson, and welcome to DR.
JIM (actually, I’m not a doctor, but I play one on the
Web). In real life, I’m a writer, therapist, and a recovering addict.
Many of you are already nodding
knowingly, aren’t you? We writers are indeed a different breed, are we
not? Certainly, most of us don’t write for the money, glamour, or
personal gain. Most of us do this odd thing called writing because, as
some wise person once stated, we can’t not do it! Is there any better
description of addiction? I think not! And as someone who is a trained
therapist and simultaneously neurochemically dependent on writing, when
asked to write a column for which I have not nearly the time, energy,
or mental capacity to write . . . I, of course, accepted! After all,
doesn’t this mean someone likes me?
And so, DR. JIM
is born. Trapped as I am in this tangled web of both the passion to
write and the codependent inability to say no, I say let the games
begin! Think of me as a sort of “Frasier” for compulsive scribes, using
today’s Web technology instead of radio airwaves. Is your life
sometimes out of control? Do you scramble to find writing time, while
your youngest child stares up at you with doleful, longing eyes,
awaiting some meager crumb of food, if not affection? Is your house,
car, and office space littered with enough sticky notes (filled, no
doubt, with brilliant if undecipherable plot ideas) to engorge the
local landfill? Do you find yourself slowly speaking sumptuous
sentences undulating with unnecessary alliteration? Have cobwebs formed
around your paralyzed body, connecting your hands to the keyboard,
while your spouse seeks to lure you back to reality with promises of
affection (or violence)? If so . . . then have courage, friends! You
are not alone!
Already the cyber questions are
DEAR DR. JIM: I BEGAN
MY NOVEL IN 1968. I AM CURRENTLY INVOLVED IN REWRITES, AND I THINK IT’S
FINALLY BEGINNING TO TAKE SHAPE; HOWEVER, I RECENTLY EMERGED FROM MY
OFFICE TO DISCOVER THAT MY HUSBAND AND THREE CHILDREN HAD MOVED AWAY
(IT WOULD SEEM AROUND 1988). IS THIS MY FAULT? WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?
“LONELY IN NEW JERSEY”
This is not your fault.
After all, writing a novel is hard work! Clearly, your family didn’t
abandon you but, considering how long you were in your room at the
computer, simply forgot who you were or that you ever existed; this is
more common than you might think. First,
our loved ones begin to realize we haven’t come to the dinner table in
months. Then, they forget what we look like. One thing leads to another
. . . after all, people must move on with their lives. Don’t go to your
“shame place” over this. My suggestion is that you call the local
police, turn yourself in as a missing person, then return to your
office as soon as possible to avoid losing the “groove” you’ve found on
the book. Eventually, Lonely, if your family was really yours, they
will return to you. And if they don’t . . . perhaps they never were.
I think you can all see from
this one example the wealth of compassion and understanding I bring to
this column. There now exists at your disposal someone who understands;
a friend and fellow sufferer who, through the use of Five Easy Steps to
Recovery, has if not reclaimed his life at least come to better
understand it. We are writers, yes. But hopeless, we are not! Take, for
example, Step One (only a slight nibble of the
wealth of wisdom yet to come):
1. We admit we are powerless
over WRITING and that our rejection slips have become unmanageable.
Is this resonating, people?
Together, we will look at this
and other steps that will help us face our fears; lean more deeply into
our faith; avoid long, wearying, fatigue-induced run-on sentences; and
come to more fully understand that this torture with which we seem
intent on inflicting upon ourselves might have some meaning to it other
than inducing long states of frustration in ourselves and long stares
of bewilderment from those who love us. Now, finally, let us embrace
our uniqueness! No more sneaking into the kitchen as the rest of the
family sleeps, gorging ourselves on unfinished reading (so many books,
so little time!), or powering up the computer to write just one
more draft! Now there exists a forum where your questions and
concerns can be heard. Yes, my name is Jim, and I’m a recovering
writeraholic. But I am not alone anymore. And neither are you.
Send me your questions, queries
(no unsolicited material, please), quagmires; I might not be a real
doctor, but I’m no quack.
"Call" me, fair readers (in
Seattle or beyond).
I'm Dr. Jim.
And I’m listening.
When not writing this column,
Jim can be found compulsively overworking at
www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.