Dry Spell


They’re words that writers–and their audience–don’t like to hear. It’s when you can’t find the words to put on paper. Dry spell. And I’m facing that’s where I am.

Last night I listened to NPR talking about the Giant Sequioas in California, many of them thousands of years old, that are in danger now because of California’s drought. They’re talking about the need to possibly either start watering the giant trees–which would take an awful lot of water–or burn down some of the other trees to let them survive. I look at my own trees in my backyard here in Texas. We have had one rain since May, and that wasn’t much, and the trees are suffering from it. Withered. Brown. Crackling.

Well, I’m suffering from my own dry spell.

I can blame it on a lot of things. There’s only so much room in my head, and much of it’s being used up by teaching and all the ancillary stuff that comes with it. This year seems exceptionally challenging, but of course I find myself saying the same thing every year. I volunteered to bring some of my own writing to our Rough Writers meeting tonight to be critiqued. So far, zilch. That’s the first time that’s happened. I’m still waiting for inspiration to strike. Right now, I feel kind of like the Texas Rangers in Toronto Blue Jays territory. Wishful thinking, but see you next year.

So what does one do in these situations? Well, for a couple of days, I sulked. And then I realized that wasn’t going to get me anywhere fast. So since I wasn’t on deadline, I decided not to push the issue. I am officially cutting myself some slack. Lighten up, the man said. Stress never helped anybody. And so I am officially lightened up. Rough Writers will have to go to Plan B.

And the second thing I do in this situation is what I always do: I recharge my batteries. I do that by reading. I keep putting stuff in until it starts wanting to come out. And then I know I am a writer again. Or so the theory goes.

I just finished a great book on Nikola Tesla as part of the research on my next book. There were lots of great ideas there. But right now I have lots of ideas and no real plan. I am waiting for that plan to fall into place. Until that time, I guess I need to keep reading.

The soil’s still dry. Time to keep watering.

 

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