by Sophie Littlefield
If you couldn't write, what would your creative outlet be?
For me, there is no "couldn't write."
Whenever I go a few days without writing, I start to seize up, like a tractor with sugar in the tank. None of my thoughts make sense to me. It's as though they have to go through the filter of the fiction process to sort themselves out.
By glorious coincidence, exactly two years ago I wrote the following post. That very day I wrote the first few pages of A BAD DAY FOR SORRY.
I hate being between books. It’s an itchy feeling, a stretch of time as friendly to the growth of doubts and insecurities as a Petri dish to microscopic critters.
After being in this spot a few times, I know better than to quit writing completely. I try to push a few short stories around the way kids push lima beans around on a plate, not doing anything productive with them, really, but using the exercise as a way to delay an unpleasant task.
(Short stories produced during the hiatus reflect my unquiet state of mind. They tend to be weighed down by inelegant phrasing and lopsided pace and a general refusal to lay flat and square, even after I’ve applied every revising trick I know.)
I do think it’s necessary to take a break between projects, even though I know there are writers who don’t – who plow straight from The End into Page One. Not my place (or anyone’s) to judge another writer’s process, but this just strikes me as exceeding reckless, a taunt to the muses.
On the other hand, the last two times I’ve been here, I haven’t been able to last through my planned break.
I meant to wait until the new year. Confession: couldn’t do it. Got back on the bike a couple days ago. Off and running again.