Dear friends, I've been away from the Red Room for a bit, and have not, as it happens, been writing (here on this blog or anywhere else). Nothing drastic has caused me to stop tapping at the keys . . . I've had lectures and speeches to give . . . and some family matters to take care of . . . and am traveling . . . and just decided to take a rest, for a while. At first I felt badly about it. When I'm not writing I feel that I should be, and all sorts of bugbears nip and tear. Is there something I am missing out on because I'm not sending my words out into the world? Some connection or insight? Will I lose the habit, the thread, the meaning of writing, if I stay away from it for a week, or a month, or more? Will I forget how? Am I not really a writer if I am not writing every day, if I actually get tired sometimes, and don't want to do it--is it a sign, the beginning of the end, the turning point marking my inevitable decent into catatonia and endless viewings of Seinfeld reruns? Do I not have an idea left in my head, blood left in my heart or will left in my soul?
If I can get past a few days of self-torture of this kind, I actually do get to a place where I can take a break for a while, and not feel as if I'm sinning against the self. And then an interesting thing starts to happen. I start to notice what happens when I'm not writing. Cases in point:
When I am not writing, I
--spend more time meeting other human beings, and can actually listen to them
--read more, and read all sorts of things I normally wouldn't
--feel all sorts of random ideas flitting through my head, and discover that some of them are curious and unexpected, and possibly worthwhile
--remember I have a body, and that I should care for it
--feel the well slowly filling, not with words, but with energy . . . good, blank energy
--have time to do favors for people
--have time to help my fellow writers
--notice the sky
--feel a little scared
--feel the world bigger than the size of my computer screen
At some point something will tell me it's been enough. I have rested. Something will brim and breach again, some idea will stick; I'll take a breath from some deep part of myself that's grown impatient, and I'll know I'm ready again.
But sometimes you have to stop and hear the whales sing.
I'm on my way to the Pacific Coast.
If you find you need to take a break--particularly after November, and the rigors of National Novel Writing Month--don't beat yourself up, my friends. You deserve to come up for air.
Causes Mylene Dressler Supports
The Women's Media Center