As I was coming out of a chicken house today, I slipped and scraped my hand on some concrete. Only the skin was off, so I rinsed it and went on with my day, not sparing it a second thought as I was pretty busy. I was only reminded of it again tonight as I gave my hands a thorough cleaning in the shower. It stung and hurt – reminding me of an event that I’ve forgotten about.
I realized as I stood there, watching the water pool at my feet, that it was a pretty good reflection of the my life. Last week I had an occurrence which scraped the skin off of an old wound in me. At first I ignored it, but then, when I had the time to digest it, I realized that I hurt and the pressure under which I currently had to work with just made it worse. My inner being came to a grinding, soundless halt and I was thrown into a quiet which had been my companion for a long time when I was younger. My writing stopped and I found myself aimlessly sitting in my chair, staring at my fish because that was the only thing that made me happy. Everything else felt as if it took too much energy.
The good thing was that I recognized this. Sunday, as I was about to do my weekly drabble, I stared at the screen and realized that I had nothing to say. That there was nothing that I could say until this quiet in me lifted. I saw the signs and obeyed them and packed up my writing computer for the past few days. When I got home, I indulged in whatever mindless movie I could find, keeping the company of Ellen Ripley, Alien Killer connoisseur and Alice, Zombie basher buff. I knew what my soul needed and I provided it.
The reason for this is that as writers, be it professional or not, we tend to use quite a lot of our energy in our work. The greatest stories are built on the anguish of authors. We open up veins and let them bleed all over the pages regularly. And, we can only do that successfully if we have the energy to let it run. I knew that if I wrote more, if I continued on the track that I was – hurling through my fiction, I would’ve burned myself out and forced my hands to be still for weeks to come. Now, I gave myself a break to let the open wound in me heal so that I can move on.
It’s very important. Writing isn’t just about the story – it’s about yourself. About what you can offer and what you have to give to the characters to make them survive.
Because by doing so, you let yourself survive.
Take a break every now and again, and make sure you know yourself. It will safe you in the end.