Thursday, January 8, 2015

Dangerous Vacations

For my several fans who subscribe religiously to the demented Blog Mansion I owe an apology. I took a couple weeks off for the holidays. I did it because, well, the holidays. They’re over now. I got through them with more bah than humbug, but some humbug.

Vacations are dangerous things for a writer and I’m paying the price now. I took a few days off here, a week there and now I’m struggling to get back on track. It’s like I’ve forgotten how to write. Now don’t get me wrong. I remember how to type. I know the rules, but what’s missing and needs to be restarted is a groove. Yes, a groove.

Starting is hard. Restarting is re-hard
Starting any new project can be hard. I usually wait like a surfer out in the ocean, looking for the right wave to start me out. Once the first wave carries me, I’m stoked and can go on. Usually. Okay, it’s not a great metaphor, since in surfing you have to continually begin again, but it’s the best I can do because I’m having to restart my brain after the holidays. The flow is gone. It's starting over.

There’s a momentum in writing novels that is not only pleasant and constructive, but totally necessary. It’s long form fiction after all and one’s head has to be involved in it all the way. You have to remember themes and characters of course, but also mood and intent. It can easily slip away, like an old family recipe you make every week growing up, but forget after you’re married and don't cook and then have to call Aunt Rita because you don’t remember how to make broccoli taste right.

Wait. I was supposed to be doing something....
When I’m writing a novel - really writing, it’s not writing, it’s dictation. The story unfolds in front of me, flows out of my fingers and I just record it. My thoughts are never far from my story. The last thought of the night and first inspiration of the morning are my story. That’s how I know things are working. Taking a break, letting loose those thoughts, laying down the pen, is hard at first, but not hard enough. I can do it. I did it. And now I’m having to retrain myself to finish a project.

Write every day. That’s what writers say. And they’re right. Every day. Every single day. If you have a project, stay on it. If you’re in between, write blogs, or letters, or journals. Edit. Stay with it. The word may be mightier than the sword, but it rusts twice as fast. I’m a lazy man. Look at my fat belly if you don’t believe me. I shouldn’t be surprised to discover that my brain is lazy too. Getting back into an intellectual routine is as hard as getting back into a physical one. It’s easier not to stop than to begin again.

Now for me, as the new year begins, I have to make myself get back into the writing thing with blogs and novels, events and talks. It’s not starting from scratch, but it’s not where I was. I’ve lost speed. Lots of it. I’m struggling like I didn’t in November. I’ve lost my mental momentum. I have cobwebs on my synapses. My ambition has been dulled with eggnog and wrapping paper, my story forgotten for television zombies and family gossip.

Now that the holidays are over and I have months of winter ahead of me, cold dreary undistracted days of potential creativity, I’d like to think I could pursue a few changes in my life, a couple New Years Resolutions, but I can’t. Before I can take on anything like that, I first have to make up the lost ground and get back where I was.

I can do it. I am doing it, but this vacation has taught me the dangers of slowing. It takes only days to forget a rhythm it took years to learn.

Write on!

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