Friday, January 15, 2016

The End/Beginning Effect: Returning to the Writing Desk

I’ve survived week one of a new semester. I feel like I’m standing on the rim of a canyon, looking into the great wide empty divide. Critical responses, book reviews, peer feedback letters, blog posts, novel chapters, short stories, essays, magazine pitches—all of this work lies before me, and my head is spinning.  

Photo Credit


In contra dancing, when you get to the end of the line, you wait out a round before getting back into the dance. (Dancers are free to spend this wait time however they like—swinging their partner is always encouraged!)  When you start up again, the dance moves are all the same but you’re moving in the opposite direction. For a few rounds, dancers can dazed and feel out of sorts; we call this the end effect.


I’ve been sitting out of the writing dance for the past few weeks. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been doing other writerly-related activities: reading lots, editing and polishing existing pieces, sending and receiving feedback from fellow writers, and pitching to magazines.

But mainly, I’ve been laughing with my sister, giggling with baby cousins, smiling at the sky from the tops of mountains. I’ve been taking long hikes and staying up too late in packed bars jiving to brass music. I’ve been dreaming.

In Venice (LV!) with the baby sister! 

At Red Rock Canyon, Nevada
Cutie cousins!
Treme Brass Brand, NOLA
I have to remind myself that this is normal. I actually do know how to write, even if I haven’t done it in a while. It’s like I’m looking at a faucet and willing it to turn on. The minute I put some energy in that direction, the water’s going to gush out.

But for now, I’m taking it slow. making lists. Journaling. Getting my hand used to the grip of the pencil. I’m readying my space, clearing off my desk, throwing away papers and organizing stacks of magazines and books. I’m sitting at my desk, reacquainting myself with the view outside my window, counting cardinals, adjusting the height of my swivel chair. This is the pre-show, the sound check.


From where I stand, looking into that great divide, I know I’m going to have to fly and soar and make some magic happen to get to the other side. I’m going to get a ton of writing done this semester, and it’s a beautiful feeling to be on the brink of that wild creative ride, in that teetering cart at the top of the rollercoaster. 
The Task-Master