Kate Flora: There must be a thing called “Blogger’s Block” because I’ve spent the last several hours trying to write a post about Maine poets and poetry and it refuses to come together. Maybe later in the summer, when I’ve had a chance to do more reading and immersing myself in poetry. When my copy of Wes McNair’s book about Maine poets arrives.
But for today, I am utterly uninspired. Actually, I am uninspired about writing anything and when I look around, my surroundings aren’t helping.
To my right are a stack of tax forms that must be completed and mailed soon. Despite having studied taxation in law school a thousand years ago, and done well, I find these forms utterly incomprehensible. It’s like some kind of numerical origami. But if I turn to my left to get away from them, there is a stack of bills that must be paid. How can it possibly cost that much to tune up a water system? Definitely no inspiration there unless it’s to fantasize, as we all sometimes do, inflicting torture on those whose services we depend on.
Normally, when I’m feeling overwhelmed by the “must do” lists, I can take myself out to the garden. This week, that has only meant getting rained on, and when I do go out between showers, I am confronted by plants that were lovely only days ago, and now are flattened and dragging down other plants. The weeds have loved the rain so much they’ve tripled in size, all the roses need deadheading, and the bunny has been too aggressively nibbling. It is NOT inspiring when the garden just becomes another “Must” on the to-do lis
Here’s the thing. It’s summertime. As I finished up the (bad) first draft of my seventh Joe Burgess book, I realized that my head was empty. For thirty-five years, I’ve always rushed the endings of my books because a new and exciting idea was demanding my attention. This time? No new ideas. No plots or characters swimming in my brain that must be explored. No reading or seeing something and wondering: What’s that about? My publisher wants the first chapter of the next Thea Kozak book and I have no first chapter to offer. Soon he will want the first chapter of the next Joe Burgess book and I have no ideas.
It’s true, right now, writing does not bring me joy. (No, Marie Kondo, I am not throwing out my books and my laptop.) I consulted with my Facebook friends about this dilemma, asking them if anyone had ever stepped back from writing for a while. Some said yes. Some said maybe for a day or two. Some said often for months or years. Then, in a casual conversation with a neighbor, he suggested that maybe I just want to take a sabbatical. That sounded right. A manuscript that needs review immediately arrived, and someone needs some nonfiction advice, so perhaps the decision is temporarily postponed. But…
I’m imagining taking the summer off. What will I do with myself? Read? Cook? Garden? Swim in the sea? Take up a new hobby? Maybe even spend some time cloud watching. What do you think, dear readers? Will stepping back return me to the writer’s chair soon, filled with new ideas and stories or will I wander into retirement?