Over the summer I started a new book, banging out enough for a proposal then kind of put it aside when the sagging middle showed up early. Being well-acquainted with that particular pain in the ass, I knew it was just a plot problem in search of a solution. So I went to a writers retreat, and with the help of a friend, hammered the issue into submission. With copious notes and a new outlook on the project, I felt ready to jump back into the swim, then my day job reared its ugly head. Suddenly, time became of the essence, and again, the manuscript moldered. Still, I told myself I’d get to it as soon as things eased up, and then another work-bomb exploded immediately followed by a family crisis. All of a sudden, writing became as superfluous as whipped cream and a cherry (in most circles anyway), and I knew if I was ever going to get back to it, I’d need to resolve what was in front of me first. Not that that realization made me feel any better. I fact, I still felt quite the slacker. Because In the back of my mind I knew it wasn’t the day job or the family or anything else I could use as an excuse. I knew it was facing that sagging middle again, and I was terrified the plot prop I devised would hardly lift it an inch. And therein laid the rub.
To be a writer, one has to write, and no one has shouted that louder than me. But how can I preach the mantra of writers’ write when I had a novel just lingering in my hard drive, bereft? Was there something genuinely wrong with me, or was I just a hypocrite? Because surely one can’t still be a writer and not write at all?
Real life intrusions aside, every writer faces dark moments when the impetus eludes them, and I’m not referring to what’s commonly known as Writer’s Block. What I mean is when the will to write is gone, when doubt overwhelms you, when you can’t even think of yourself as a writer. Most often, times like these occur after a rejection, whether from a teacher, editor or agent, but more likely from a rebuff totally unrelated to anything literary. Rejections of this kind cloud judgment and sap confidence, eating away at the one fact that should always keep our writing mojo in perfect sync: that in the literary world, it’s never about you. It’s always about the work, and it’s that work that sustains us. No matter how terrible or disappointing or unreliable things seem, at least there’s the writing, being the one reliable recourse that will always shape itself to our moods, and more than likely, become better for it.
Okay, enough wallowing in it. Ass in chair, bitch. Now.
One of the nicest things about living in the Northeast is the stunning weather we enjoy each fall. Sunny, crisp days, cool, sleepable nights, it’s a welcome respite after the hot, sweaty summers. We get to wear our new sweaters and boots, festoon our homes with bright mums and pumpkins, go apple picking and lose ourselves (and occasionally our kids) in corn mazes, grab a mug of hot and liberally-spiked cider, ooh and aah over the changing leaves, while the scent of wood-smoke settles like incense over our towns. But guess what? Here it is, nearly the middle of September, and I’m still wearing sandals, the cicadas are still chirping and I’m still running the air conditioner. What is this–Miami? Christ- this is New Jersey! What in the wide, wide world of sports is going on?
Look, I totally believe in global warming–not that it’s a belief system as some deniers swear it is–and I’m almost convinced carbon dioxide is the New Oxygen. But I want Autumn. I want Autumn so bad, I’m willing to give up my $65 pedicures until next spring so I can bring out my boots. I’m willing to stand atop a mountain and screech Al Gore invented the Internet! if it’ll bring it any sooner. I’ll bury my swimsuit in the back yard and break my beach umbrella over my knee if the temperature will drop twenty degrees. I want to make pot roast and chicken soup and hot cider because I can’t stomach any more Caesar salad and iced tea. But most of all, I’m sick to death of bugs, moths, spiders, and mosquitoes, and the fact their very existence keeps me from entering through my front door when I’m out after ten PM because they’re flash-mobbing around my porch light. There used to be a bat hanging from my awning taking care of those bastards, but I haven’t seen them in a month. They’re probably so sick of summer too, they’ve already gone into hibernation.
Damn, I’d be happy if I could just blow-dry my hair again.
I know why this is happening. I know why Summer can’t make peace with Fall and give up the whole thing already. I’m fairly certain one or the other has dug in on the opposite side of the aisle and is refusing to budge. Apparently, yielding to Fall will look like they’re “cooperating,” and we just can’t have that, no way, no how. So don’t expect Christmas or Hanukkah this year, either. Unless, of course, it comes with sunscreen.
Yessiree friends, reality sucks, and it’s the wise novelist who knows this, and precisely why we choose to retreat from it so often. Which is why every now and then it’s beneficial to go TO a writer’s retreat, which I am this weekend…
Imagine dedicating an entire day to writing your book!
Whether you long for a quiet place to work without interruption or you crave the inspiration & energy that ignites when writers gather, the Write Now Writers Retreat at Old York Cellars Vineyard in scenic Hunterdon County, NJ is for you!
Join our writers retreat where YOU get to decide how to spend your time!
Leave your worries behind. Write Now Writers is a distraction-free retreat designed to keep you moving forward on your manuscript. Designated writing areas are no Wi-Fi, no phone zones. With no interruptions, you have no excuses.
This is your time to write!
Spend the day working distraction-free or participate in these optional activities:
You’ll enjoy writing in a beautiful outdoor environment sure to spark your muse. Indoor provisions also available.
Retreat also includes a delicious picnic lunch and snacks.
But the real part that sold me was…
You can even win a bottle of wine!
Okay! I’m there!