The Writing Desert

This is what I feel like right now. My well of words has dried up, and I’m traveling through a writing desert in search of something that will let me tap back into that spring. Thing is, some of this is self-inflicted stoppage and I’m not going to give up work (more on that in a bit) or the physical training that is leaving me more than ready for bed at night. Wise counsel urges patience. I’m not a patient woman. I want to have it all, and I want it now! Or at least, in the forseeable future.

I’m looking at my sales numbers and remembering why I don’t do that. The book sales are dropping way off, from the nice wave they were riding following the releases of Case of the Perambulating Hatrack and The East Witch. I expected this, and I did not plan to rely on the royalty income to support us through this move and transition. Still, if I had the time and brain to promote, it might look different. I also need to sit down and look at the current projects and start planning what little writing I manage, instead of writing glimpses of whatever pops into my head.

So here I sit, the ice tinkling in my coffee, lost in thought. My current job is demanding mentally in ways no job before has asked of me. I get paid to read! I’m still amazed at that. Research? It’s not an indulgence any longer, it’s a requirement. I told my boss the other day that I’m exercising self-discipline in not continuing a good research read when I get home at night (because I’m currently still hourly) and she laughed with me, and agreed that was a good thing for now. I’m in a healthy work environment, and one that is using my brain. Writing also uses some of that energy, hence the interference. I’m hoping that once the first six months of the job are behind me, and the steep learning curve has leveled out somewhat, the writing brain will have a little left over to work with.

It’s a bit like, or maybe more than a bit, what my goals are in going to the gym. Although that’s not just about me getting in shape, it’s leading my son to work by example. He comes with me. The personal trainer figured out what I was doing, so the training has centered more on the Kid. Which means that I’m pushing myself in ways I didn’t expect and wouldn’t have come up with on my own… not that it’s a bad thing. Strength training will be good for my muscles, but also my bones. And it will take time. This first week? I didn’t feel like I’d pushed that hard, I wasn’t stiff and sore following workouts. But dang have I been tired.

My hope – and I’m writing about it here, so I can refer back to this in six months (remind me!) – my hope is that the growth of my mental and physical muscles will allow me to take on more, to keep it balanced, and to see growth in other ways as well. Long ago, back in the time before children, I was actually athletic (and yes, I can imagine the skeptical looks from those who know me in person). I ran, I did some rock climbing, I canoed, skiied, and snowshoed as well as hiking. I’ve come back to the hiking. My husband is planning to move my canoe from Ohio to Texas, where we live conveniently close to a lake (and also the sun hates me now, so that’s going to take adjustment). I’ve started to run on the treadmill again. I have the potential of another 40-50 years stretching out in front of me, and if the brain is trapped in a body that had collapsed around it…

I made a choice, about eight years ago. I was offered the opportunity to take my writing full-time. To be supported until I fledged my word-wings well enough to support myself, then us. Or I could continue through to the degree, and then build a career in the traditional way. I chose the science. It had been my dream since I was a little girl, and I knew then, as I know now, the writing would be waiting for me.

The stories will still be there when I’m stronger. It’s hard to be patient. I miss writing. But you know? Missing it tells me that it will come back when I’ve developed the little gray cells enough to manage both that, and work, and life, and physical training, and… I’m laughing at myself. Ambition, thy name is Cedar.

8 comments

  1. Anyone that has “too many” passions/hobbies/careers/Interests in life (according to friends, family, the outside world), needs to read: https://www.amazon.com/Refuse-Choose-Interests-Passions-Hobbies-ebook/dp/B000SEKMS8

    Sometimes, waiting is the answer, sometimes different organization is the answer, and this book has helped me with both. Just like knowing your personality type, (INFJ/Melancholic-Choleric secondary), can help you to understand your social interactions and motivations, and thus work with them instead of against them, so too knowing your “Renaissance” type (Serial Master/Sybil) can help you deal with the times that you brain/body is refusing to cooperate with you and let you do the things you want to do.

    I highly recommend it. I bought mine in hard-back years ago, and it is all marked up, highlighted and notes in the margins. It’s like a textbook/owner’s manual for your career.

    And, yes…the little voices in your head will be there, when you are ready….

    1. Good night! The blurb comes close to describing me, except that I’ve narrowed things down to a group of fields. I’m still the bane of “proper” PhDs because I keep reading outside my field, working outside my field, and dragging things into my field that aren’t supposed to be there.

  2. Yeah, the long breaks in publishing hit the sales, but the readers will come back as soon as you do publish. That’s the easy part. And all that research with be there, available for your characters, when you start writing again, and that scientist character will be the better for it. Just like the one who rock climbs or canoes. Everything we do, everything we learn funnels into the writing and improves it. However frustrating the break, now, it’ll be fine in the long run.

  3. The past couple days, I’ve been deliberately setting out to read my TBR stack down. Not just the things I haven’t started, but the things I started and didn’t finish. Not only is it a way of reducing mental clutter of “Got to get to that, and that, and that, and…”, but it’s also slowly refilling the creative well with fresh sights and turns of phrase.

    Right now, you’re busy – but it’ll also refill the well for later!

  4. I have the problem of having the immediate demands overwhelm the more important ones, and I have to keep trying to re-prioritize.
    Do what you need to do to live your best life. Family, then work (which may also be writing), then hobbies, and finally, if at all, what other people want you to do.
    I am not patient, but I will wait for the books that I know you will write when you can.
    Thanks, John

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