The past four-plus months have turned into one long and unplanned sabbatical from writing. For the first time in nearly seventeen years, the characters' voices in my head quieted. All signs of fictional worlds faded into darkness. Not a hint of a story flickered. The silence overwhelmed me. After the temporary relief for the needed break, concern moved in. This shifted to fear. Then dread.
What if I had no more left? What if whatever opportunity to be a writer the universe has afforded me has come and passed? The 'what ifs' drove me battier than all my characters combined. I wasn't experiencing writer's block. This was full blown WRITER'S PARALYSIS!
Now, I am not by nature the most patient person in the world. I accept this trait in all its frustration and glory and work at allowing whatever life brings my way to play out at its own pace. But four months without a word on the page, a blog or even a tweet? Some days I felt certifiably nuts. I wasn't myself and everyone in my life knew it. Part of me was missing. Then the universe stepped in. Two events changed everything.
A conversation with a dear writer friend pulled me back into the fold of both the writing community and the human race when he shared his experiences with me. I no longer felt alone, something I had allowed to happen rather than reaching out earlier in the process. Why I hadn't done this is beyond me. His encouragement and support lifted my spirit.
And yet, something was still missing. Off.
My husband and I don't have children of our own, at least of the human variety. (No offense intended, Rudy and Pix!) This is an issue which has tugged at my heart--and sometimes crushed it--for many years. Now on into my forties, I truly believed that I had put the idea to rest. I had found peace in being an aunt and a part-time babysitter-playmate to friends' kids. Last week my husband's friend asked if I might like to babysit his and his partner's daughter. The old tug at my heart yanked again.
Without blinking I jumped at the opportunity. I could barely wait until we met that first time. Something was different than it had been with any other child. When I looked into her eyes and she stared back, grinning, the connection I felt was incredible. Pure magic! We were sitting on the floor together packing our pretend picnic when it donned on me. Deep down at my very core--knowing the relationship I have with my own mother--I've always wanted a daughter. The fact that this toddler looks a lot like I did when I was two made my heart sing. Loud. What a blessing to have met her!
As I sit here writing this blog, two obvious lessons I re-learned today while reflecting include:
1. Writing communites and friends offer support and encouragement found nowhere else.
2. Sometimes what's not working with the writing has nothing to do with writing.
Thank you, Riley, for reminding me what the world looks like through the eyes of a child, and for helping me to imagine what it might have been like to have a little girl. Suddenly my head is filled with the chatter of voices and the makings of an amazing world. The plot of a story is beginning to form. Pardon me, but I need to sign off and go find my clipboard and a pen...