I have been negligent, and the effects of that negligence are wearing on me. The whole point of setting a blogging schedule for myself was to ensure that I was always writing. It’s like I tell my students: writing is like any other activity; you have to practice it all the time if you ever want to be good at it. If you don’t practice, you won’t develop, no matter how much talent and brilliance you might be carrying around with you.
Today I felt it.
I was as though my brain was stiff from lack of use. It was the mental equivalent of running up a flight of stairs and finding yourself doubled over and wheezing, legs burning and lungs exploding. (I also had that happen to me in real life recently, having quit kickboxing and only just having returned to lifting weights.) I couldn’t string my words together. I couldn’t turn a phrase. I forgot how to spell “fastidious” and had to work to construct a sentence in which it could be used.
I remember a year and a half ago, when I was still working on Emily Rose, that I was in the best writing shape of my life. I was punching out anywhere from three to ten pages per day, a rate that now seems completely ludicrous to me, like trying to run ten miles a morning would feel right now. But I was doing it, day after day, and it led to a novel that – for all of its faults – was at least complete and respectably solid.
If I had to guess at it, I would say that I have staved off complete creative atrophy because of my camera. Finally getting a DSLR allowed me to really enjoy taking pictures again. And while it took me months to finally get comfortable shooting in full manual mode (and not relying on the automatic button that turns the camera into a large and expensive point-and-shoot), I now feel that I can at least compose some decent images. I just can’t wait until the weather warms up so I can actually get outside. My living room only functions as a studio backdrop for my daughter for so long.
But pictures aren’t words, even with the excellent exchange rate that they enjoy. Reading China Miéville’s The Scar has reminded me of my love for really, really well-written fiction. He writes with grace and precision, elegance and rawness. It’s writing that stays with you long after putting down his book (though that feeling often leaves you longing for a bath).
Part of me is crying out for release. It wants to write again, it wants to create worlds again.