June 2, 2010: Creative Drought
Last month I finally finished a lifelong dream of writing a young adult novel. Took me thirty years to finally sit down and write the damn thing. It was like giving some kind of psychic birth.
The road to completion was fraught with intermittent bouts of creative drought and fear of not being able to do it. It was hard. But I persevered into the unknown and created something from nothing. You’d think I’d sit back and bask in the pride and accomplishment of doing something I didn’t think I could do. Au contraire mon frere. When I finally finished, it dawned on me that I’ll have to revise that sucker. Like fifty times.
Picture this: a cannonball flying through the air and slamming into someone’s stomach. That someone is me.
I reached a false summit. I’ve hit a few of those, but this one has really taken the wind out of me.
This is my manuscript sitting on my desk. I’ve been carrying it around since the end of April because I meant to begin revising right after I finished it:
It’s grown crinkly and remains unread.
Yesterday I was apathetic as I watched a deadline come and go for submitting it to an editor from a conference I attended at the Loft in Minneapolis the first weekend in May.
It’s not that I am quitting forever and giving up on my dream of becoming a young adult novelist. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I didn’t have it in me to write the cover letter when the June 1st deadline rolled around.
The cover letter for god’s sake.
I worked so hard to finish my beloved book, woke up so many early mornings to confront the blank page and the unknown, it sucked all of the creative juice right out of me.
I have to have faith that my creative wellspring will once again pour forth. So far, it always has. But right now, I feel parched, cracked, and dry.
While this state always freaks me out, I know what I need to do. I need to fill the well.
We are all in charge of finding inspiration so that we can fill our wells. If we do not have that vital energy that inspiration brings, we do not have energy to give to ourselves and others.
Writing in a journal is an extraordinarily effective way to fill the well. You may start by simply asking yourself, “What inspires me?” and write for five or ten minutes in either list form or by freewriting. Once you have named what it is that gives you energy, go to that thing. Go toward that light and re-ignite your soul.
When I need to recharge, I read what other writers are writing, take long hikes in the woods with Dharma, write in my journal, ride my bike, garden, and relish in the company of my three and five year-old.
As always, I hope it works.