I don’t remember who said that, and I’m pretty sure that’s not a direct quote, but the paraphrase is close enough to the quote for my purposes. I didn’t quite know what it meant when I first came across the forewarning. Why would the act of writing necessarily go hand in hand with bravery? How could not-writing be cowardly? Between-projects, the root of that advice becomes more clear. Some of us Tales Chicks are cruising the S.S. Laziness as a mental recovery vacation; others of us (ahem, me) are lingering for other reasons. More cowardly reasons?
For some writers (me) full immersion in a compelling story, surrender to a cast of characters, is scary like love. Like obsession. Some of the yummiest romances travel the heroine’s journey, her first taste of the hero (figuratively or literally), her realization of how easily she could lose herself within him, her resistance and struggle to hold onto her life rather than losing it to immersion in him…her eventual surrender to the inevitable, and the thrill as she allows herself to feel. Takes a lot of courage to surrender, to trust that you’ll emerge in the end, still in possession of everything you started out with.
I usually don’t buy into the “spiritual discovery” craft books (Writing Down the Bones, Bird by Bird, The Artist’s Way) – a plot is a careful, calculated stack of cause and effect events, guided by specific character responses that can be pre-chosen and shaped in order to achieve the desired effect – however, I do buy into the view that creator is necessary for creation. An empty (fearful) creator can lead to an empty creation…or no creation at all.
I’m trying to view this (guilt-free) dry spell of mine as a courage-gathering period, getting over one love and gearing up for the next one. It’s tough, though: all my “flings” are entertaining me so well. I’m even thinking of attempting a lace pattern for socks next, and I blew the dust off my mandolin today. I’m worried picking up an old story, or giving my imagination over to a new one, will rob me of these newly rediscovered joys. The ones I always put to the side when I’m writing. What do you realize you’ve missed, in that space between projects? Pedicures? Clean kitchens? Hand-knitted socks?