Tuesday, July 28

Dry Spells



I’m writing this as I sit in a beautiful home in Carmel-by-the Sea in California—it’s quiet because Grandboy, Son, and DIL are all napping. The house sits on a hilltop and so there’s a feeling of being high up in the trees,almost like being in a tree house, and I can see the Pacific off in the distance. It should be the perfect place to write—atmosphere, nature, quiet…it’s all here—everything I need to get into storytelling mode. It's all here...

Sadly, I’m not. What I mean is writer Nan isn’t present right now. After nearly a month of being a full-time Nanny to a three-year-old, housekeeper, chauffeur, laundress, cook, therapist, and copy editor, my creativity has taken a serious hike. And after all the stress of the last eight months—worrying over the illnesses of family and friends, stressing over Son and his stress, trying to get accustomed to retired Husband, grieving my dear sister, and being frustrated because I can't seem to write, I worry that my muse may be gone forever. I haven’t written a word on my current WIP in almost two months. That’s a long time… isn’t it?
I’m not one of those writers who works well in angst. When my life is in chaos, I’m simply not creative. And I’m wondering--really truly wondering--if maybe I’m not a writer after all. Maybe I’m an editor. Maybe it’s my job to fix other people’s writing. I realize I’m saying this after having written four novels, but you know, right now, I'm scared that I couldn't write a romance novel if my life depended on it. It’s just not there and beating myself up over it because isn't helping either. Guilt does not equal creativity.

Is this just a dry spell? Is it lack of motivation? Have I run out of steam as writer? But what about the plots that are still keeping me awake at night? The characters in my head begging to have their stories told? Why am I still inventing dialogue as I drive around the Bay Area running errands? Tell me, fellow writers and word wranglers, how long is too long to go without writing? Any sage words of advice? I’m listening…

8 comments:

  1. All I can say is, it will come. I think we've all either been there or--as I mentioned the other day--will be there soon! :-) Willow Bay will call you back soon, and you'll answer!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gosh, I hope you're right. I thought I'd start with some blogging on my own website and try to get back in the groove as soon as I get home from CA. <>

      Delete
  2. When I first went to work for Walgreens, I didn't write anything substantial for a couple of years. I was working six days a week--my choice--and I guess I just needed the break.

    And personally, I always write best at home or at the local B&N. When I go to the coast or on vacation, I always take my writing stuff, but I never write more than a snippet--if that. I'm too busy soaking in the atmosphere or something. LOL Enjoying my vacation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to know there is someone else who needs familiar around them to work--I sometimes worry that I'm simply making excuses for being flat lazy. But I don't think this is about lazy--it's more about overwhelmed. Glad you came by, Margie!

      Delete
  3. I think creativity can definitely take a hike, but as Liz and Margie said - it will come. When bebe was in preschool I did my best writing at Starbucks waiting for her to be through (it was a 3 hour program with a 30ish minute drive each way...the starbucks was across the street), but when she went into full-day Kindergarten I had to find a new place to be creative - turns out my living room works well! But finding that place was hard and it took forever to figure it out.

    The past year has been really eventful for you, so maybe this is your mind's way of telling you to just relax. Your characters are still talking. When they're ready - and when you are - your pen will find paper again.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks, Kristina...your words are comfort. You know, I do have to remind myself that in the midst of all the chaos, grief, overwhelm, etc., I did manage to release a new novel. It was just in March, but it feels like so much longer ago than that.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Nan, Here is the psychology professor talking. One of the concepts in creativity is the idea of incubation. If someone is unable to solve a problem they should do everything they can to move toward a solution and then just put the idea on the back burner. Your brain will continue to work on it in the background until it returns to your consciousness with a solution.

    That being said I love your writing. The characters at Willow Bay are so real to me and it is your work and voice making them real. As others have said give it time. Keep having those conversations with characters in your head and eventually you will be placing that work on paper (or in the computer). Take a breath and give yourself permission to be in the moment. Your incubation period will end and your muse will return. As one of your fans I look forward to your next book.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Carolyn, how kind you are and interesting that you're a psych prof. My mom was a psychologist and I can hear her voice in your comments. Thank you! I'm incubating...and the WOWB still have stories to tell...

    ReplyDelete