I took a kind of “sabbatical” from writing starting at about Halloween. It’s the end of January now and I’m still not writing much.
You see, I have twin children. And my parents and my in-laws in the immediate area. So when the holiday season gears up, things get a little crazy. This year, I thought, I will shut everything down and just deal with the family crap until about the end of January.
Looking back, it needed to be done. I was too close to my manuscripts to be able to do anything useful with them, I wasn’t able to see the forest, or the trees, or the dirt, or even that really creepy guy in the wolf suit, crossed-dressed like some old lady, complete with hot pink lipstick, hiding behind the elm bushes.
Talk about plot holes. That last one you could drive a truck through – Duh! Everyone KNOWS that elms are TREES, not bushes.
With the multiple obligations of holidays and birthdays (almost done, 2 more parties to go) that I’ve allowed to take center stage, I’m feeling intensely bitter. Every time I’ve tried to sneak in some writing, something has happened. My presence is absolutely required OR THE WORLD WILL END. DRAMATICALLY. WITH TEARS AND EVERYTHING. (I actually wish my kids were the ones saying this, but no, it’s other family members). So I’ve settled for research reading. I have a whole paper-carton box filled with books that I’ve determined I need to read so I know what the hell I’m writing about. Half are about New York City and the History Of and the rest are medieval warfare, castles and what-not (Dry reading – it’s been almost twenty years since I’ve had to sit down with a book and a good dictionary just to understand it. Don’t judge me – I’ll bet you don’t know what an ashlar is either.).
Ah-Ha! And yet, despite my efforts, forces conspire against me once more!
I got sick. Several times. As I tippy-type these words, my eardrums are trying to pop out of my ears, much much James Gardners’ Ooloms from Vigilant (an absolutely hilarious book if you’re looking for light science fiction with humor, by the way, but it makes more sense if you read Expendable, first). And when you’re sick, sometimes the brain acts like a toddler and says:
“No! I don’t wanna work!”
“Please, honey. Let’s just get through this chapter on motte and bailey-”
“No!” And gooey, mashed-up words go flying everywhere as tiny little fists bang the hell out of the distasteful offerings Mommy has made.
If you’re a parent, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Now how the hell am I going to get the section on oubliette’s off my ceiling?
Neil Gaiman, who some would argue might know a thing or two about writing, has mentioned on his own website that sometimes, you just need a break.
Or you will break.
Which goes against the common logic you see floating around out there these days about plunking down and making your daily word-count no matter what. “Even if you can’t write, you can always be doing something! You can do research! You can shorthand/text yourself notes! You can listen to industry podcasts while you clean!” they shout.
Well, yes. You can…
But I’ve also looked at my output and the things I note while I’m sick. Some of my notes are helpful – Ooooo! That is an excellent way to describe gastrointestinal pain. Other things, not so much. Most of my notes tend towards a cross between massive sleep deprivation and kinda… well…
The words just look like they’re covered in those fun loving germs you wish your co-workers wouldn’t share. And that’s a bit disturbing.
So I’m going to wallow. I’m going to curl up in a nice warm blanky, with some nice hot tea (or hot chocolate or something) and maybe re-read parts of my favorite books.