The past couple months have been slightly odd ones for me. In December, I finished up the first step of a huge project. I took January “off”, watched a lot of good-bad TV, traveled to the other side of the world. In February, I jumped back in — re-reading through the first draft, attending the AWP Conference. All busy, all good, all worthwhile pursuits.
March, though? March, for the most part, has felt stagnant. I’ve been restless. Ennui-y (new word, claiming it, trademarked). Ambitious and eager and yet at the same time — nowhere to go. Frustrated and somehow stuck, or perhaps rather “unstuck,” a la Billy Pilgrim, just sort of floating along as the weeks pass by. A helium balloon cast adrift.
Then this past week, I realized — I haven’t been writing.
That is not to say I haven’t been working. I’ve been puzzling out kinks in the first draft, asking questions, receiving answers (more on that process next week). But I haven’t been looking at the project straight on. I’ve been giving it the side eye, circling it, trying to come at old problems from new angles lest I scare them back into hiding.
I’ve been working, but I haven’t been writing. And I realized, that’s what’s been missing. That’s why I’ve felt afloat, adrift. Without a consistent writing schedule in my life, I flounder — at work, at home, in relationships. For better or worse, writing is what anchors me — the act of transcribing imagination tethers me to reality.
A creative friend mentioned the other day how nice it would be to NOT have the creative drive — to be content to go to work, come home, make dinner and watch a couple TV shows. How nice it’d be to have that be enough. But for so many people (I’d argue most people), it’s not. We crave something more, and often times you don’t realize what that something is until it’s gone. Cliche, but true. Although I never truly forgot, I guess I needed a several-month hiatus to remember how important writing is to me; it affects my well-being.
Writing in many ways makes my life harder — it means getting up earlier, working later, trying to eek together any spare bits of the day in order to get shit done. But in the end, it’s worth it — and I can say that without a publishing contract, without ever having been paid for my creative work. In the end, the writing itself is worth it.
So I’m setting a new goal for myself — a new deadline. I am going to have the second draft of my book done by July 1. That’s three months. Totally doable. Writers gonna write — and I’m ready.