11 Stages of Creative Bankruptcy

Stage 1: Delusional Thinking
It’s three o’clock in the morning. You just finished writing your magnum opus: an essay detailing your perpetual quest to find the meaning of life. You believe this essay is your ticket to the big time. After some LIGHT editing, you plan to submit it to The New Yorker.

Stage 2: A Rude Awakening
The next morning, reality hits you like a ton of bricks. Your essay is hot garbage, devoid of any artistic merit. Not one piece of what you wrote can be salvaged. 

You should probably cut your losses and start fresh…

Stage 3: Denial
…But the prospect of writing new material is far too daunting. Perhaps if you stare at your creative misfire long enough, you’ll find something that’s worth a damn. 

Stage 4: Uncleanliness and Malnutrition
Hours spent staring at your artistic debacle: six. 

Progress made improving the content of said fiasco: zip, zilch, and zero. 

Starvation pains strike your abdomen. You should probably eat something. At the very least, you should shower. You reek of self-deprecation…

Stage 5: Procrastination
…Or, perhaps you just need to mellow out. 

Your nostrils emit cannabis smoke like an industrial chimney emits smog. Condensation from a glass of Everclear bleeds through some papers on your desk. You take a large swig, immediately regretting the decision to do so. 

Drowning in an ocean of vices, you periodically come up for air to interrogate your creative blunder. Alas, the words on the page remain asinine. 

You peer out your bedroom window. A blanket of stars covers the night sky.

You have wasted the entire day.

Stage 6: The Walk of Shame
For the first time today, you exit the shadowy depths of your room. Friends and loved ones express concern for your wellbeing. You wave halfheartedly in their direction, ignoring all inquiries.

Stage 7: Self-Punishment
You reach for a piece of cheese in the fridge. It’s got mold on it, but you eat it anyway. You don’t deserve fresh dairy. Not tonight.

Stage 8: Doubt
While eating moldy cheese, you contemplate your inability to create fresh material. Around your seventh piece of moldy cheese, you wonder if you were ever good at writing to begin with.

Stage 9: Shower Therapy
You take a shower to clear your mind. As per usual, the water pressure is abysmal.

While shifting impatiently for intervals of trickling water, you find that most droplets escape your maneuvers. However, all is not lost. For every missed opportunity, more water continues to drizzle forth. You just have to be attentive and patient. 

Stage 10: A Half-Assed Epiphany
In a last-ditch effort to feel good about yourself, you compare the act of writing to taking a crappy shower. Much like the low pressured water dripping from your showerhead, original ideas can be hard to capture. But as long as you remain attentive and patient, new concepts will eventually trickle forth.

Stage 11: Accepting Creative Bankruptcy
On second thought, you think that sounds moronic.

Fuck it. 

Maybe there’s something good on TV. ❏

Torrey Kurtzner is an unemployed writer and master of self-deprecation.

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