Sometimes, Wait

Imma tell you a thing.  When my father was in the hospital back in 2014, I couldn't write.  My sister, she tore through words.  Words and words and words.  It was how she coped.  I remember her sitting in my living room (back when we lived in the rental, back before Clickitting), hunched over her laptop, writing furiously.  She could write.  It was how she dealt with the trauma.  I couldn't.

In December of 2014, I had my baby.  (Hey, this story sounds familiar...)  I was neck-deep in Talldogs and my world came to a crashing halt.  Whaaaat is this new little creature?  How do I care for it?  Why is it screaming inconsolably? (Hint: dairy allergy.)  I am tired.  Literally dog. dead. tired. because I'm up in the night breastfeeding.  What is creativity.  What is my story.  What are words.  What am I.

These times were times of emotional upheaval and situational change.  Everyone has these times.  And sometimes, for writers, we can't write.  Everything shuts off.  Everything goes quiet.  If our creativity is there somewhere, it's running silent and deep - too deep to reach, too silent to detect.  And for those of us for whom writing is our life-blood, it's scary.  We suddenly have no compass.  The thing we love, we can't access it any more.  The thing which made us ourselves is no longer a viable identifying factor.  It's gone, and it seems gone for good.

It's not.  Spoiler alert: it's not.  I crawled out of my stupor, through post-partum depression and the reeling shock of trying to figure out who had I become as a mother now, on top of being a wife and a writer.  Slowly, I began to write again.  Slowly, I ticked through the plot of Talldogs.  I found its genius again and I finished the first draft.

I learned something in that emotionally harrowing experience which are the early months of being a new mother.  I learned that sometimes you just have to live through the valleys, and the sooner you stop fretting, the better.  

I learned that the writing comes back.  
It really does.  
And stressing about it doesn't bring it faster.

I learned that I can get back up.  

I learned that I am a writer, always will be.

When you have nothing in your head, when you once had a monsoon of story ideas and you were once on fire, don't despair.  One-trick ponies don't trot here.  There are times to push, push, push ahead; there are times when you just need to lie low.  Those times may be long, they may be short.  They may be a month, they may even be years.  But it's okay.  It really is. 

I'm between stories right now.  I just wrapped up the first draft of Drakeshelm, and I'm researching for my next work.  I'm not really doing any writing.  And you know what?  For the first time (in forever), I'm not worried.  I know the light will strike when it's time.  I know the story will accumulate in due time.  Before I know it, I'll be back in the traces.  All I have to do is wait.

9 ripostes:

  1. This makes me think of the proverb you had as your screensaver at that point. "They thought they could bury us. They didn't know we were seeds." New growth very often starts in the cold, dark, seemingly dead places.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing, Jenny! This was so encouraging to read.

    Dani xoxo
    a vapor in the wind

  3. I'm the same! Last year I came back to writing after a while of just not doing it very much. I finished up the first draft of my novel, and then a week or two later something traumatic (not going into the details) happened that turned our family upside down, and even when it was over I just couldn't write for ages. I couldn't even knit (and knitting is my stress reliever). Thankfully I'm back on track, but it's an awful feeling, especially when you feel (as I did) that writing and knitting don't even matter in the grand scheme of things and what's the point anyways.

  4. Thank you for this! It touched something in me, I needed.

  5. Yes to this! Generally whenever I finish a first draft, or second, or what have you, the effort leaves me dry. I think I even talk less--just because I've used so many words, and now for a while I want to experience a wordless world. I'm content to be quiet and let my soul find its strength again.

    Congratulations on finishing Drakeshelm!


  6. I just have to say, sometimes it's really encouraging to hear someone else has exactly the same struggles/life experiences as I do; it's especially encouraging to see someone has gone through them and come out the other side because then I know I can do it too. So, this post was for you guys, so you know that I've been there and that it gets better! <3

  7. Every time I think of my unfinished novels and half-ideas, I get a stab of guilt because it's been so long since I've been actively invested in them, and at this point, I don't know when that time will come back. I know it will eventually, but I can't put an expiration date on this pause, this waiting. And it's interesting to me that we call it a waiting period, because the reason I'm not writing novels is because I'm *not* waiting on everything else — college, jobs, ministry. Life presses on at a whirlwind speed, and the thought of entering full-throttle into a novel right now isn't terribly realistic (I'm no new mother, but when the push of to-dos finally lessens, I do just want to sleep). In all of this, though, I'm still a writer, and writers write. (Papers only half-count.) When I'm not writing, I feel like I've cast aside a part of my identity. That's why it's encouraging to know someone else is in the same boat, even though we're in different stages of life. It's encouraging, as always, to know you're not the only one. <3 And I wish you all the best with your next project post-Drakeshelm.

  8. Chloe - I don't want to admit how long it took me to spell your first name without looking because I'M REALLY BAD AT IT, APPARENTLY.

    Hey, I totally understand how college just sucks the life out of you. TOTALLY understand. Poor Abigail is often in the dumps because there just isn't time to write anything other than papers, and when you DO have time to work on a story, heh, you're so mentally and emotionally exhausted that what even is words anyway? Trust me, I completely understand. Best just not to beat yourself up about it and waste even MORE precious energy. Just be patient. The time will come.

  9. When I was doing law I could barely even read. Just knit.

    Like you say, Jenny: It's all good. It'll come back. And you have to live a little; else what would you write about?