It’s been a long year.
Job changes for my husband. A new school for my girls. A best friend moving away.
Lots of upheaval. Lots of emotions. Lots of stress.
I shelved the book I spent months writing. I felt like I just couldn’t get to the emotional core of a middle grade novel right now. I tried to bump it up to YA, but then it was too mundane. Months of work let go. I beat myself up for my lack of productivity. In the time it took me to write one novel, a dear writing friend of mine has written three. I feel compelled to keep up.
So when we headed to our my husband’s family’s lakeside cottage for a month, I came with high hopes. In the past, I’d spent every morning writing. It was one of my most productive, creative times.
I told myself I would write every morning until noon. I’d wake up early, do some yoga and stay focused. I would start the new sci-fi, paranormal I’d been brainstorming.
But life had other plans for me. Each of my daughters got sick - nothing serious, but definitely distracting. The weather was cold and rainy, so instead of playing outdoors, the girls were frequently inside. There were lots of relatives visiting. People coming and going, laughing and playing.
And then there was me - I was just plain exhausted. I couldn’t wake up early - all I wanted to do was sleep. When the sun did shine, and I sat in my room listening to everyone outside, on the beach, I didn’t feel inspired at all. I was grumpy and frustrated. I found myself snapping at everyone.
“I can’t concentrate with all that laughing.”
"Could you sing a little quieter?"
And the words weren’t coming.
Finally, a week ago, I faced the fact that I wasn’t going to write this summer. That what I really needed - more than anything - was a true vacation. To be with my kids and nieces and nephew, to enjoy the sounds of the waves, to have day-long adventures, and to listen to the book on tape I downloaded last summer, but never found the time to listen to.
I started knitting a scarf. Each of my daughters had asked me to make them one months ago, and I promised I would, but I never did. That broken promise had been weighing on me.
Ironically, after a week of not writing, I am beginning to feel inspired again. My brain is spinning in all the best ways: imagining the first encounter between my main character and her love interest and the way mysticism will weave it’s way into the story.
The truth is, even writers need vacations. Time to clear our heads and just let ideas percolate. The pressure we feel to write and produce can be worst when we are the ones imposing the expectations on ourselves.
I know now that writing is not what I need to do on this last week of vacation. What I need is to not write, to play with my kids, to walk with my dog - and to let my imagination run wild.
Oh, and of course, I need to finish that scarf.