Most writers I can think of talk about this time … the silence between words, the pause – as necessary to the creative process. Daydreaming is essential. Writers need time to stare off into space, to sit and simmer on low.
I don’t have to tell you how difficult the last year of teaching has been during the pandemic.
I’ve already alluded to the long hours spent staring at the computer screen.
And I’ve tried hard to stay balanced,
to not become a poster child for all to real dangers of burn out.
Other than the relief of having pulled off the jobs, I’m not sure how well I’m doing.
More low-sugar smoothies and tennis dates with family are good signs.
Since hastily finishing the first draft of a play in April, I haven’t written much beyond scribbles on paper and notes to my students.
Somewhere in handwriting there are words I didn’t have the brutality to share – there are losses I understand I am supposed to “be over,” so my mourning has quieted. There’s the beginning of a piece I wrote during a mud pie creativity workshop that may not be worth pursuing. There are notes from California vacation with Mom and Stacy that should become a short story or part of a novel but … this will take time.
I’ve got plenty of unfinished projects to pull up and new ideas in my head. How are there not more adult stories about college theatre students?
And there are fall classes to prepare for, a writing workshop in particular that is pulling me back to my own writing, but right now is the time to sit and breathe and restore balance. The words will wait. They are so patient. I’ll let you know when it’s time.
My reading has not suffered. Tyler Mahan Coe’s second season of Cocaine and Rhinestones came at the perfect time. The books by playwrights teach me things about myself – Quiara Alegria Hudes’ My Broken Language and Jen Silverman’s We Play Ourselves. Joyce Johnson’s Minor Characters is as much about her as it is about Kerouac, obviously. SHE is a writer. Rachel Cusk’s Second Place stopped me. I need to spend more time with her and will do so this summer.
A quote I scribbled across post-it notes:
“Why do we live so painfully in our fictions? Why do we suffer so much from the things we ourselves have invented? …I have wanted to be free my whole life and I haven’t managed to liberate my smallest toe.” – Rachel Cusk, Second Place.
-ag, july 7, 2021