Going Fallow

In Craft, Musings on September 22, 2010 at 10:38 pm

It happens. Despite all my best intentions, despite baby ideas crowding out the corners of my subconscious, sometimes I just don’t write. I write in my head, in my dreams, even in conversation, but the words just don’t make it to the page. And I feel ashamed. Like “not a real writer” when this goes on, even though I know that the time will come when the urge to write will be like the running of the bulls inside me and nothing will be able to stand in its path. Whole drafts get written when I feel like that. In between, there is doubt, there is asking questions about my purpose and my talent, and wondering if perhaps sticking to teaching is not the best path after all.

I like to think that every writer needs this downtime between projects, so when I feel this way I avoid reading interviews with people like T.C. Boyle and Jodi Picoult who never take a day off, who don’t believe in slacking or fallow time. During these times I pretend those people don’t exist. During these times I acknowledge that maybe there is something in the very chill of Fall that’s shaking summer out of our hair that is responsible for my urge to go downward, inward, away. The light disspates, the blooming things shrivel up, nature herself demands a contraction. Is it strange that my muse might also hibernate?

So that’s where I am now, inside a contraction, in the root vegetable of my creative self, waiting for the transition to settle, after which I can crawl out into the mulch, inhale the tangy earth-scent of this time of year, crunch around in the dried leaves that will coat my lawn in about two minutes, and see what dark creatures I’ve brought up from underground with me this time.

  1. beautiful. I always get myself in trouble when I read those articles about who does what and how they do it!

  2. Me too, because everyone is a more productive writer than I am 🙂

  3. Jordan, you’re one of the most productive writers I know. This whole year has been a fallow one for me. I’m taking it in stride for the most part. The only time it hurts is when I send out my student loan payment for that MFA.

  4. Tracy, you’re kind. I write a lot of quantity, not so sure about quality.

  5. Jordan, I truly think that everyone needs a different kind of timing of on/off/idle for their creativity, and I agree with you about the time of year inviting burrowing down.
    I like to quote Brenda Ueland on this topic: “So you see the imagination needs moodling–long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.”
    and, “thoughts come so slowly. For what we write today slipped into our souls some other day when we were alone and doing nothing.”
    So you have full permission!

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