“Write every day.” That’s something many writers tell others who want to write. “It doesn’t matter if what you put down sucks,” they say, “put it down anyway. It’s the only way to become a writer! Write. Write. Write!” That’s good advice. So is this: “Don’t write.”
I quit my day job to become a full time writer in 1994. Jumping into the full time writing fray was thrilling, liberating, and scary. Writing full time continues to be thrilling, liberating, and scary.
All this time later I’m still writing full time. Erotica. Horror. Historicals. Most days I spend hours upon hour at the computer, creating fictional adventures. Some steamy and graphically sexual. Some scary. Some set in the past. Some set in contemporary times.
Good fun, hard work. I write – a lot. I want to. I have to.
“Yep,” other writers might say, “That’s what she has to do. That’s what she’s gotta do. Don’t let a day go by. Write something everyday!”
But you know what I’ve discovered in all this time? Sometimes that old well runs low. And you have to fill it back up or you start scraping the bottom. What you come up with is thick mud and worm poop. You have to turn off the computer or lay aside the pen.
I took a vacation a couple weeks ago. Went to the beach with Mitch for five days. Stayed in an inexpensive motel on the oceanfront, one that was all the more inexpensive because it was off season. Ninth floor. Nonsmoking room. Balcony overlooking a pier and the great gray sea. I didn’t take a laptop. I didn’t take a legal pad, though I was going to. I was tempted, Lord don’cha know it. Instead, I just sucked up the vacation. I stood on the balcony to breathe in the frosty, salt-laced February air. I watched the people below on the boardwalk, pier, and sand, braving the chill in their coats and gloves, throwing sticks to dogs who leapt into the foamy waves to retrieve them. At daybreak I watched the orange slice of sun on the horizon, followed by several old men on the sand, waving their “treasure hunters” back and forth, looking for quarters and other valuable finds. One afternoon I watched a group of retarded people on a day’s trip with their counselor, sitting on boardwalk benches in matching wool caps, dutifully eating the sandwiches that had been brought in a wheeled cooler. I saw lovers buried deep against each other and against the wind, wandering past, unaware of the beauty around them, absorbed in the beauty that was their intimate connection. I observed the waves at high tide. The waves at low tide. The “Sand-Boni” leveling the sand soon after sunrise. Laughing gulls diving for leftovers. Herring gulls looking pissed and bored. Little sand pipers running around and just being cute. Pelicans in the sky. Dolphins embroidering the surface of the water.
Mitch and I also did our share of wandering. I took off my shoes and socks and rolled up my jeans to test the winter waves. We meandered through the closed-for-the-season amusement park, studying the graffiti, the old newspapers blown against wire fences, the boarded up concession stands. I stared up in horrified fascination (I have a major fear of heights)) at the “Skyscraper,” a 165-feet high, 65-mile an hour Ferris Wheel-type thing that seemed content to be left alone for the time being. Bought cool, kitchy souvenirs made of shells and glue at one of the few gift shops open. Then, I challenged one of my fears and climbed the wrought-iron spiral staircase to the top of the 200-year-old Old Cape Henry Lighthouse. For five days I watched, I touched, I smelled (yeah, okay, shut up), I tasted, and I listened. I took it all in. And I didn’t write a damned thing.
Now I’m home. My mind’s well is full again. I’m ready to get back to work. Not writing for those five days was inspiring and enjoyable. And I’ll attack my writing once again with inspiration and enjoyment.
If you are a writer or aspire to be one, write, write, write! But also, don’t forget to shut down the computer some times. Spend a day in a park or an afternoon in a bookstore. Do some gardening, go wandering, sit in a coffee shop and experience the world beyond the screen. Don’t tell yourself, “Okay, I’m here to get inspired for a story, a novel and I better come back with some ideas.” Remove yourself from urgency. Just be there. Just suck it in. Relax. Don’t fear a little time to let the well refill, for it will. And when it does, drink deeply. (But spit out any residual worm poop.)
Tags: writing | relaxing | erotica | historical fiction | horror | vacation | advice | inspiration | rejuvenation
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