If you have stopped by these parts in the past few months, you’d be forgiven if you imagined scenes of tumbleweeds with Spaghetti western music, dust blowing across a landscape slowly being reclaimed by nature (or, at least, by the occasional spambot comment attack).
For over a year I haven’t been blogging or tweeting consistently, and this isn’t because I’ve been busy writing a side project that I’m about to unveil to the world. I haven’t been writing consistently either.
The reasons are many. I threw myself into an intense job with an equally intense commute. I gradually realized that after writing and publishing four books in four years while blogging nearly every day, I had reached a point of creative burnout. Mix in some lack of willpower to just force myself to do the thing, and you end up with zero words.
The dominant emotion for a writer who isn’t writing is… guilt.
Why is that?
It’s such a strange emotion to feel for what can sometimes feel like a self-indulgent hobby. I don’t delude myself to think there are vast pockets of humanity who I’m letting down by failing to put my thoughts into pixels. The world will survive without another young adult novel and more musings about the writing process. If there’s anything I should feel guilty about, it’s that I fail every day to do enough to help others and bend the world toward justice.
And yet guilt I feel, even as a distant part of me knows this was the right thing for me at the time. I don’t know what’s waiting for me beyond the curve of the horizon, but I know I haven’t written my last and am ready to attack things anew. That internal churn whose byproduct is words hasn’t abated. It’s just reformulating, and I’m trying to trust that it will lead me to the right place.
I’m learning to think in new ways, I’m paying attention to new things. I’m scribbling when I can, even if it’s sporadic. And when the dust currently blowing wildly across the landscape starts settling, I’ll see the contours of my new world and distill it into words.
Have you gone long periods without writing? What did you feel?
Footnote: I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! More info here.
Art: “The Lookout” by Albert Bierstadt