a writer's need for refilling
We're home, and I'm sitting in my usual spot in the living room--laptop humming, wood stove blazing, tea at the ready. We had ourselves a wonderful mini vacation on the other side of the mountains, in Winthrop, Washington, but I'm home now--refilled and strengthened.
I can't pin my sense of rejuvenation on any one moment. Rather, it was the cumulative effect that stirred me. It was snowfall on my face, a fuzzy black puppy in my lap, and a circle of family and friends clustered around a campfire. It was two hours of window shopping along the boardwalk in Winthrop, and laughing with my husband at the sign in one window that said, "Closed . . . see you in the spring." It was the smell of the soy milk lotion I spotted in one shop and tested on the back of my hand, and the taste of a latte, and the bone-warming heat from a homemade wood stove, and the sounds of a blacksmith hammering beauty out of a hunk of metal. It was standing on the edge of the river, counting the deer on the other side. It was dust on the mountains, a crunch beneath my feet, and icicles frozen in mid-drop over the falls.
I tried to write while in Winthrop, but I couldn't concentrate. Chapter thirteen wouldn't come--not with a nudge or a kick or a whine. It refused my pleas as easily as my threats; in the end, I surrendered. I shut my laptop and went for another walk. And I found myself downtown in a bookstore, reading a children's picture book, the subject of which was as far from my work-in-progress as you could get. But I'd been led there--to that store, and that chair, and that picture book. For after I'd skimmed the front matter and skipped the dedication and settled on the first page, I read a single phrase that released my pent-up creativity. I read, "He saw darkness in the dog's eyes," and I suddenly knew how I was to write chapter thirteen. I can't even explain how that convinced me--I can only tell you that it did. I shut the book and left the store, and before I'd gone two blocks, I had the opening scene of that stubborn chapter written in my head.
On the quotes page of my website, you'll find the following bit of wisdom by Sir John Lubbock: "Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time." Sir John was correct. Writing empties us, and what is emptied must be filled again if it's to continue flowing outward.
Perhaps you can't trot over the mountains for a bit of winter-coated rejuvenation, but you can take a walk. You can find a quiet corner in a favorite cafe and search the faces of oblivious strangers. You can stare at the sky and think grand thoughts and give your ambition the afternoon off. And then when you've refilled yourself, you can return to your art with fresh eyes and a new heart for the work.
That's all for today. I feel a burst of "want to" coming on. I'm going to go with that--and open chapter thirteen.