Sunday, June 24, 2012

Getting Started Again and Again

When the semester ended in May, I had an image of endless time to sit back and read, innumerable hours to reflect, and plenty of space to sit down and work on essay revisions and drafts of new pieces. But when the semester ended, I found myself entwined in some campus issues, still trying to rediscover the psychic space of a carefree summer. For several weeks, I declared that the detritus of the semester still needed time to shed; I needed space to rest and recover. For the past 16 weeks or so, I rode an automatic pilot work machine, not only doing my regular semester duties of teaching and leading faculty (and chasing other people's responsibilities), but also continuing to work on revisions (and what also felt like a lot of drafting at times) of the textbook with Liz and taking two back-to-back eight week personal essay workshops at The Lighthouse Writers. It took me weeks to realize how tired I was, and during those weeks, the space to realize how much I had produced in sixteen weeks and how much the diligence had allowed me to progress in terms of craft. Yet, I kept stressing since once I polished off a collaborative narrative piece on teaching and writing with a fellow writer to submit to a journal, I stopped writing.

But I never truly stop writing; I simply haven't met the lofty expectations I have set for my writing. When I take stock of the past month since school ended, the writing coffers hold several longish blog entries, a draft of a micro essay, a start of a flash fiction story, and scribbled notes for revision of an essay. And while it is not the work I imagined I would accomplish in a month (full drafts of new pieces, solid revisions of some essays I want to send out at some point), I am still writing.

Summer leaves me weeks of unscheduled time often, but in reality that is a fantasy that doesn't usually transpire. I look at my calendar, and it's rare for me to even find a whole day that is blank. For when summer comes, I find myself wanting to see friends I have neglected during the summer when I had to keep a social free calendar in order to accomplish the writing alongside my job. When summer comes, I have opportunities to travel, and it is that travel that often jumpstarts ideas, immersing me in newfound characters and settings, allowing me emotional distance from my perceptions of previous writing so that I can return anew.

Yet, with the space and distance from a routine schedule, I start to panic, wondering if each day I don't write and only think about writing means that I will never start again. And while I know that such a statement is ridiculous, I do think that a day away means the possibility of never writing. It's almost as if I am testing my commitment at times, trying to see if I have truly internalized writing as a being, a force that will kick through my skin screaming for its voice.

But the truth is I have not stopped. I might not have finished pieces yet. I might not have the pile of work I want to send to da coach. I might not have the rhythm and regularity I ordained for these months off. I do, though, have the constant nagging inner voice that says get me out, get me on paper. I do have the pistons firing ideas, stirring up the juices, waking me from sleep. And today, I use my blog as a jumpstart, flexing my fingers in a workout, energized to finally sit and do some of the hard work of writing that has been patiently waiting for me.


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