If you’re a writer, you’ve probably had at least one moment of pure bliss, when your word count is on the mark and the words are flying, alive. And maybe you thought, I would do this, even if I never got paid a cent, even if I never got published.
Have you also had the moment where you had to concede to yourself that maybe you weren’t meant to be a writer at all?
In my experience, that dark moment—that black hour, if you’ll forgive me—isn’t a lightning strike. It’s a slow dwindling of your attention, one decision after another over a series of days, then weeks, then months. Even years. And these decisions aren’t even bad ones. You choose your loved ones, your job, your daily survival and comfort and enjoyment—until the small voice nagging that you should have written today stops saying a word.
I did that. There are about five years in my writing history that will forever be blank, because I chose everything else first. Much of that I can’t regret—I met my now-husband, moved to Chicago, built a solid career that has financial benefits still. But I regret that I didn’t write also.
I’m all about also now. Still have the husband, still live in Chicago, still rock the day-job. And I wrote a book. And I’m writing another one.
And I have dark moments. (If you read the last few weeks of posts, you’ll recognize that I’m flailing about, trying to end a novel.) But now I know how fast five years can pass by without a word being written. I know how bad that stretch of time feels, if you’ve been ignoring the thing that makes you feel like you are flying and alive.
I know how many books I could write in five years.
I won’t waste that kind of time ever again. And yet—I can’t wallow about those blank years. Those years were part of my process, just as much as the years I spent catching up, focusing and finishing all those short stories (published and unpublished) and that book in the drawer. We can’t cherry-pick the moments that got us where we are happy to be. We contain our successes, but also our failures, our actions, but also our inaction.
I am those five, writing-free years. But I’m also a debut novelist, come July.
If you have blank days, blank weeks, months, or years, don’t let them stretch out any longer. They will always be there in the calendar. You can’t change them. But you can also turn them around. Write on this day. Write during this week. If you act fast, 2013 won’t be a blank year in your past, but the start of something big.
Did you give something up? How did you start again?
Photo courtesy of iStock / kutaytanir