The Writing Itch

Some writers thrive on chaos. I am not one of them. My writing thrives on routine, so summer, with its irresistable activities and travels, is always hard on my manuscripts. Add to that the fact that I’m preparing for a move — and I’ve already admitted that I don’t write so well in transition — and my current manuscript has been shamefully neglected. Whenever this happens, I start to panic a little. What if I never pick that manuscript up again? What if this is the end? What if I’m not really a writer?

But I’ve learned time and again that my time away from writing is limited, no matter how much I panic. My current hold-up was that I knew I needed to get some clear plot and organizational direction before I went forward on my novel, and I was waiting for that “perfect opportunity” to sit down and do some serious outlining and untangling. The need to do so started pressing on me last week, until the breaking point on Thursday night. I had just finished my critiques for my writers group, and I could not go another minute without working on my own novel. I stayed up late at my “back-up” writing desk (the one not pictured in my writing space photos because of its messiness) and had a solid plan for moving forward before I went to bed. By Saturday, I’d begun writing scenes again (seated at the laptop at my — clean — primary desk).

These moments are always reassuring to me. When I finish a manuscript, I often breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the “break” from working on it. But I’ve found that if the break lasts longer than a couple months, I start to “break” a little myself. And I know then that, whatever kind of success or lack of it I get from my writing, I will always be a writer. That is, at least if I want to stay sane — or relatively so.