A work in progress quickly becomes feral … You must visit it every day and reassert your mastery over it. If you skip a day, you are, quite rightly, afraid to open the door to its room.
-Annie Dillard, The Writing Life, pg. 52
I’ve been away from my writing for two weeks. No, three weeks. Has it been four? Maybe two and a half.
I tried to get back at it yesterday and found myself in a tense state of panic. Every good thought I ever had seemed as-good-as-snatched away. Spiders have taken up residence among the toppled chairs and dusty table of my inner work room. Weeds have completely overtaken the garden.
I’ve read writers’ warnings of this kind of neglect; the horrors that ensue even after one day’s absence. But my case — two weeks! No, three (I mean four). Is there any hope? Is it all a loss? I suppose one cannot know unless he tries.
So, I spent part of yesterday banging my head against the wall thinking maybe something would start to rattle. When that didn’t work, I closed my eyes and danced oh so freely to music thinking maybe I could feel it back. When that didn’t work I went childlike, belly to the floor, doodling on paper, hoping some line would come forward to meet me. No success. So I closed up shop, headed home to a late dinner, and read Dillard’s The Writing Life until bed.
And then, in the wee hours of this morning, a thought made a slight twitch in the corner of my mind. I was on the hunt yesterday, wrongly, for some new, fresh trail. But what this poor lost girl needs is not some whole new beginning, but to retrace her steps. To see if I can’t find the path I was already on, where I was already working. To catch a whiff of it, and proceed from there.
“O Blessed Notes!!” I remembered all of my 3×5 cards squirreled away, holding clues. There, there will be a good place start. I popped out of bed in a dreamy delight and perked a chipper cup of coffee, eager to reacquaint myself with the ol’ scribbles.