Writer Dead Time

Bless me, blog, for I have ignored thee. Devoutly, for half a year, for 1/132 of my lifetime (66 x 2). And why? Because I wanted to, because I needed to, and because I can. That sounds like the President, doesn’t it? Let’s examine those items one at a time except for the President bit.

I wanted a break. I admit I took a complete sabbatical. Toying around with an old short story and getting banned from Twitter don’t count as writing. From June when Beat the Blues came out until November, I did not sit down to write. I did not consciously get to work. Leaves didn’t get raked, dishes remained stacked in the sink. The vacuum cleaner didn’t run by itself. You get the idea. My juices or inspiration or any other term identified with the creative process skipped town. Instead of characters spinning in my head, I thought of pleasant diversions such as, wait a minute, some vacuum cleaners–those robots–run by themselves. Useless drivel in other words. I enjoyed it.

I needed to. I’ve been retired from teaching for exactly eight years. In that time I’ve done a lot of writing–four novels worth. I ignored things in my personal life to accomplish this. Most of my days revolved around sitting down and getting to work, how long I worked, how much I completed. When that kind of work is your day’s major routine, the rest of your time sometimes seems trifling. For a young writer with more energy, that might not be a problem. You can go places, do things, keep the motor running.¬†Doctorow said that “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” Perhaps I became less inclined to begin the trip.

I can. Mark Twain stopped¬†Huckleberry Finn for two years to “let the well fill up.” Huck and Jim had passed Cairo, and Twain knew he had a different sort of book on his hands. Hell’s bells. If Twain could do it, so can I. Maybe as writers we get to know ourselves better as we work. If we write to discover how we feel about things, perhaps we pause to figure out exactly what things we want to examine. Now there’s a couple of chapters of a new novel saved on my hard drive. There’s a new short story out in several Submittable accounts. There’s a lot of cleaning up to be done, and it’s time to get the vacuum out of the closet and get moving.

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