I’m heading down to London today for the first of two conferences with my pal Debi. It signals the end of my sabbatical and all the writing it has engendered. More importantly, it means I have to leave Dundee and those I love here, but I’m going to stick to talking about writing here (if you see me sniffling on the train down to London, you’ll know why).
When you get a great opportunity of time to write, it can be a bit overwhelming at first. I wrote about my first writers colony experience in the same vein. Like most artists, we fight to find the time to create, carving out time here and there. When we’re suddenly presented with extra time — whether it’s an unexpected day off or a week’s holiday or, yes, a year’s sabbatical — it can at first be overwhelming: I must do ALL THE THINGS!
But I learned from that first writers colony experience to give in to my natural tendency to idle. As Jerome K. Jerome reminds us, “It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do.” So yes, I have idled a great deal as well as accomplished much (a small selection of recent publications):
But when the big marathon of writing and idling comes to an end, how do you go on? That’s where I am now. For a few days I’ll have LonCon and ShamroKon to entertain me and then I’ll be back in NY and the semester will be roaring to a start and acclimating will take up most of my energy — and then I’ll feel that pit of despair open up below me. You got too used to all that free time, the voice will whisper, you’re not going to get anything done now. I know better, yet I will hear that whisper and be tempted to give in to despair. Why? Because the truth is plain.
I won’t write as much.
That’s not a reason to despair; I need to remind myself of that, too. I’ll still write a lot. I have learned how to do that and life is too short to moan over what I don’t have (or where I’d rather be). My writing has brought me the wonderful life I have now. There’s every reason to believe that my writing will continue to make my dreams real (and help me deal with the inevitable sorrows of life). Writing is how I live in the world.
Most of all, I will remind myself that it’s all about having fun. And that will keep despair at bay.