The post lamp out by our front walk is drowning in plants.I had to take this shot from the second story just so it was visible at all. And you know what? The guiding light that’s been driving my writing is similarly buried in the thriving plants of the rest of my life. Here’s why this is okay for now, and how I plan to get back on the creative path.
I got through the Camp NaNoWriMo challenge in July with flying colors. I kept pushing into August to finish the first draft of my novel, and I’m happy with it (it’s a draft so it’s got a ton of problems, but it accomplishes what it needed to do and I know how to move it forward). And then . . . I stopped.
To a certain extent that stop was planned. A draft needs to sit and cool for a while, so you can come back to it with fresh eyes, approaching it from something closer to the reader’s experience. I’ve made all kinds of notes to myself about things I want to check and fix, and I’m actually eager to get back into it.
So I have that lamp calling to me, like the lamppost in Narnia, but I haven’t been able to follow it. The lamp is buried under too many other things right now. The new semester at college began last week, and I’m putting in 9-10 hour days just getting everything in place as we begin. Other demands are basically non-negotiable: I have to sleep, I have rehearsals for organizations I belong to that I can’t meet, and so on. There are other parts of my life I’m unwilling to cut out (dinner with my husband, weekly meals and games with my kids, weekly 6-hour gaming marathons with friends, an hour or so of reading or TV each night as I relax). For now, this all means that I’m not getting to my writing right now.
But this is okay. The work I’m doing each day typically involves writing, just not fiction writing (putting together syllabi, lesson plans, handouts, and all the other paperwork that goes along with teaching a college-level course). I’m not worried about my word-producing brain shutting down. The draft still calls to me, and I’m looking forward to working on it. What I’m planning to do is keep up with those 10-hour days to get ahead enough that I can start devoting blocks of time to the revision. I hope to be there in two or three weeks. Which is interesting, because in a month or so, after the leaves drop off those bushes, we’ll be giving them a major pruning, bringing them down to less than half their original size. I’ll be getting back to my writing just when that pole lamp starts to stand out proudly above the bare-branched bushes. The metaphor will be complete.
The message I’ve got right now is this: Sometimes the lamp gets buried, but that’s okay as long as you dig it back out again. It’s drowned in the lush, growing, thriving life around it, which is not really a bad thing. I can rest content knowing that life has overwhelmed the writing lamp for now, knowing that I’ll find it again, and soon.
So let your lamp continue to shine, even if you can’t see it for your own life right now. Don’t give up on it. You’ll find it again when you prune everything else back, and in the meantime, enjoy the greenery.
In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Monochromatic.”