I’ve been pretty randomized, what with one thing and another. The most recent thing, a delightful one, was that my nephew was here for a day, on his way from A to Z. He’s wonderful to be with, a thoughtful, passionate, articulate adult, the sort of person I would love to have raised myself, but am pretty sure I could never have pulled off. He’s also a writer, so of course we talked about writing.
One of the things I have learned about myself over the last thirty-five years of writing is this: if I take a break, it takes a while to spin back up. Two days, six months — does not matter. It is going to take a minimum of one week and usually about three weeks of writing every single day without much pleasure before it starts working smoothly.
There are necessary reasons why such breaks happen. Unless I can convince my travel partners (and myself) that I want hours of solitude every day in preference to, say, seeing mountains, I obviously am not going to do it. If I get really sick, obviously. It’s really hard to use deep creative muscles for writing at the same time I need to use them for hard day-job tasks like creating a new syllabus or writing a tricky letter of recommendation.
I used to be miserable through all these breaks, because I didn’t see very clearly that there was a way back to writing after one. I saw the weeks of miserable drudgework ahead of me, but didn’t see that at the end, it would get easier again. A few years back, though, I realized this is just the price of warming up the car, or priming the rusty pump — and it’s a price I can pay and then move past, back into writing.
I had that amazing, prolific fall, and stalled out in the sphinx story–but this wasn’t about the sphinx story, it was about travel and holidays and more travel and head colds and syllabi and complicated plans for everything from birthdays to car repairs. I want back into the sphinx story, and it’s okay, I have a way back in. I just have to sit down twenty-one times in a row.