Well, I did make thirteen submissions, six of them as part of the September Twitter Pitch Madness. I wrote seven blog posts. I made twenty entries in my idea journal. I came up with an idea for a new major writing project. So I can't say I did absolutely nothing.
However, I had a fleeting thought when I first stopped working back in August that I might do something meaningful…profound…even spiritual…while I wasn’t working. Then when I went back on the clock, I would be changed. In a positive way, of course, a way that would make me a finer human being, or, better yet, a finer writer.
Yeah, well, as you may recall, I dropped off the work bandwagon because dealing with various family issues meant I could only work three or four hours a week, and the effort to keep trying for more was making me nuts. Turns out that I can’t do anything particularly meaningful, profound, or spiritual in three or four hours a week. Though I did change my daily schedule around so that I no longer exercise right after eating. So there's that. That's kind of meaningful.
This Was Disturbing
In the early days (many days) of not working, I had this fatalistic feeling that I might not ever be able to go back to work. (Given how this upcoming first week back in the harness is turning out in terms of still more family commitments, I wasn’t being melodramatic.) I didn’t actually want to work at that point, but at the same time I felt as if I was nobody and nothing without working.
A couple of weeks in to my family leave, my husband was finally driving again after his shoulder surgery, which meant that after a meet up at an elder’s place, we went our separate ways. For the first time since May, I didn’t have some place I needed to go instantly. But, remember, I didn’t work. What was I going to do?
I don’t work, I thought. I don’t have to go home. I don’t have to go anywhere.
So I went to Michael’s and bought, maybe, three hundred of those little things for holding pierced earrings in your ears. Then I went over to T. J. Maxx and walked around and around and ended up spending eighty dollars.
This could be my life now, I thought as I dragged my haul to the check-out counter.
This Was Disturbing, Too
I also didn’t know if I’d ever read another kids’ book. Or The Horn Book. Or Writers’ Digest. (The renewal form for that magazine has been sitting on my kitchen counter for a long time, a very long time.) Instead I polished off lots of adult books from my To Be Read pile and my Kindle. I don’t think I’ve been to the library since July to this day. I just couldn’t bring myself to read anything that wasn’t produced for my age group.
In An Odd Way, This Is Also Disturbing
One day I started reading a really good YA novel I'd just bought for my Kindle. (Except for The Little Blue Truck, I still haven’t read one for anyone younger.) I started picking away at a Writer’s Digest, and a few weeks ago I realized I was reading a Horn Book. I got started on some blog posts for October. I got an idea for a totally new book and began working on an exercise to develop voice for one of the characters.
I was working. Barely. And weeks early.
What Made This Experience Disturbing
This experience has been disturbing because being unable to work undermined my desire to work, or maybe I should say my ability to work. A case, perhaps, of use it or lose it. At the same time, not working was not satisfying. My identity is tightly involved with writing. I write, therefore I am. I don’t write, therefore I’m not.
The whole thing was like being sick, actually. Something was wrong, and I’m recovering, but slowly.