Sleep eludes me these days. I could blame it on my arthritis. Or the cup of coffee I drank after 6 p.m. It could be a menopausal symptom. But I would just be lying to myself. My mind knows it is delving into a period of insanity. It’s not a bad thing. I won’t seek professional counseling, and I won’t use a self-help technique to escape its clutches.
In fact, I welcome the onset of sleepless hours, even knowing I will feel and look dragged out until this time passes and I can once again rest for a full night. It will result in a few mood swings. Most certainly, there will be a rise in conflict with my husband.
This insomnia marks the initiation of a creative period that will result in the birth of a piece of writing. What will show up? I will not direct the flow. It could be another children’s book. Today, it’s a novel. The National November Writing challenge provided the ticket for this crazy ride. Work every day on your novel, without editing until you run out of energy. Complete the project by the 30th.
November 1 is not here yet, but the creative wheels are greased up and in motion. I am ready. I know how this goes.
During my teaching years, I wrote. Every day. Lesson plans, student goals, the administration required reports. Not just in the early morning before the commute to my classroom, but after school and on the weekends. Feedback on class assignments, event planning in my daily planner, updates on my professional website, letters to parents, requests for donations as Class Sponsor, entries in my evaluation materials.
I longed to write a story. I started more of them than I could count. Inevitably, they would pile up unfinished as the importance of school paperwork shoved them to the back burner.
I was not a superhero. I could not move beyond professional writing during my working years. The career change had to start upon my retirement. It began without planning. One day, after the first year of traveling and teaching part-time, I felt the urge to begin writing a children’s book. I found myself typing every day, hours upon end. What was happening? I often stayed in my pajamas. On trips to the bathroom, I would glance at my unmade up face and crazy uncombed hair. I didn’t have time to focus on something that minor. I couldn’t wait to get back to my laptop and continue.
Luckily, I had no children at home. My husband was traveling for his job. The days flowed into weeks and months passed. I appreciated the solitude of my country home, far away and snowed in enough during these winter months to make the trip out a hassle for visitors.
When the seasons changed and my writing slowed down, I took inventory. I had completed over 20 children’s books! I was amazed at myself. I considered resting on my laurels for a time. But being goal oriented, I intended on pursuing publication. I worked on that avenue with vigor and recognized the deadly roadblock. I would need feedback for my writing. A lot of it.
I joined a local writer’s group. Then the misery began. The participants were seasoned writers from many genres. The biggest percent had already published. I found a connection of incredibly talented people. I was critiqued on my writing. Oh no! Everything needed editing. Not once, not twice, not three times. Over and over again. It was a realization that nearly stopped me in my tracks. To survive as a writer, you must take criticism of your work. You must be willing to change. I hadn’t thought of this aspect of the creative process. It’s simply not as fun as creating the first draft. It’s slow, tedious, and frustrating. In the end, your writing improves. It flows better. The nugget of inspiration is revealed with a clarity that wasn’t present in the beginning.
A few years into this journey, I am learning how to balance the creative flow with the tedious “administrative” work of writing. It’s not easy. I have yet to publish. Oh, I have submitted. My e-mail has not blown up with offers. I realize there is no other choice but to continue and at least I am able to call myself a writer. That is real progress.
I know these steps are part of the normal process. Overall, I have been happier than at any other time in my life. Even with the sleeplessness and bathrobe filled days. Creativity unleashed does that for you. Whether or not I sell anything is irrelevant. I started something that will not end until I mentally or physically am unable to perform.
I hope that is many, many years from today!