Awful. That's how it feels to spend a week and a half without writing. Let me clarify: it feels awful to spend 10 days without writing when you fully intended to write, but for unavoidable reasons, you are away from writing. No first drafts. No revisions. No scribbling in my writing journal where I jot ideas to develop, make notes, try out really rough drafts, scribble phrases and words I like, and generally play around with the ingredients of a writing life.
I guess it's not exactly correct to say I was completely away from writing. I did work through changes to an essay with an editor (it's destined for a website and I'll post a link when it's live). Then there is the research report I've been pulling together for a photography client who is working on a coffee-table book proposal. Oh, and I've been hip-deep in blogland with another client expanding her media industry website, composing test blog posts and a blog development plan. And I needed to put together some self-marketing materials for a website I'm partnering with on a project later in the fall.
Those activities are not what I think about when I think about writing. When I talk about writing, I'm talking about drafting, writing, rewriting, revising, rewriting, editing, revising, and the ongoing thinking process, that zone, when I'm more or less living in the piece. And, even before I get to all of that, I'm talking about prewriting, when my mind roils with ideas and themes and choices about points of view and tense and voice and tone….and even though my writing mind was churning during the past week and a half, since I knew I would have no time at all to actually write, mentally something seemed to clamp down, loud and hard. The draft from that shutting door, even if only for a short time, was chilling, desolate, scary.
Not all that often, but say a few times a year, my day jobs or my children or my husband or relatives and any or all of my other commitments, including my own health, will conspire to demand my attention. Often all at once. Not for small issues, but big ones, ones that simply cannot be put off. The kids schools will begin on time whether or not I get to write that new essay. Injured body parts must be rested and doctor appointments made (after being put off long enough) even if that means I miss a contest deadline. Sometimes, as a freelancer, my "sort of writing" obligations must be met, regardless of my own optimistic chapter-a-month memoir plan.
Having put most everything I could in my personal life on hold for the two years of an MFA program, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to me that, six weeks out from graduation, so many issues have been usurping themselves, culminating in the Ten Days Without Writing.
It makes sense. It's just life. It doesn't mean anything other than a little bump in the writing road.
But I can hate it. And I do.
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