May 6, 2011

A creative hiatus - lack of commitment or a necessary evil?

I've been a bad writer during 2011. I have edited a small segment of my book, wrote maybe one and a half short stories and lately I feel I've lost my literary va va voom. I could tally a list of excuses, one of them being I wrote a 200 page PhD thesis on the "Magnetic Moment Measurements in Stable Sn isotopes using the Transient Field technique after Coulomb Excitation in Inverse Kinematics" which I suppose counts... maybe, and then went galavanting round Venice and Córdoba, hosted a bunch of guests, and am now preparing for the final 100 yards of my doctorate by getting my defense talk prepared for May the 16th. Oh and of course trying to find the answer to the dreaded question of "what to do with my life now" which is better not to even to ask.

I didn't write much but I did take pretty pictures of Venice!

Suffering from this non-Catholic guilt, I continue to beat myself up over this writing hiatus. Maybe it was a whim? A trait in my fickle personality just waiting for my next big fad. It doesn't matter I published a short story or wrote a 100,000 word novel in 3 months, am I really a writer? My friends all tell me I was exhausted; I had bigger fish to fry and writing a PhD thesis and publishing a scientific article still counts. But one useful piece of consoling advice came from another writer friend of mine on the other side of the world: All artists need to rest at times

Following in the footsteps of Byron, Thomas Mann and Hemingway counts!

Writing involves putting a lot of yourself into your work, it's an exhausting feat both physically and emotionally, and like any form of dedication everybody needs to rest at times. Like the act of dreaming processes the thoughts and events for the day like a defragmentation program, a break from writing is a necessary evil to rejuvinate the little grey cells. Opera singers can stop for a year and come back with a vengeance, so why should I waste energy feeling deflated because I lost my motivation to write? When the right moment comes I'll be ready to do it again. Forcing myself to edit a novel I don't enjoy editing will not result in a good book; forcing myself to write a short story I have no inspiration to write is futile. I have to love writing, and while discipline is good I shouldn't do it till I hate it, especially when I'm not being paid for it (yet!).

Adventures in Córdoba are inspiration. 

A friend of mine, a professional soprano, felt the same when she had a down time with getting jobs. Her mother said: "Go out, walk and swim, take care of yourself because it's all part of the job!" Living is key to the writer. Travelling as a lone woman in Venice is material for a short story; taking my mother to Córdoba on Easter Sunday adds flavours the atmosphere of my prose; going out with friends and observing people is material for writing. If one walks down the street and drinks in every gesture or describes the places they see with words of detail or even down to describing the scent of a place - they're still a writer. A writer is more than a scribe, they have the ability to bring life to words and colour them from experience. 

Details are important. 

So I took a hiatus to write a PhD thesis and to travel, maybe they'll appear in future work. So I took a needed rest to recover my exhausted brain, it's better then persisting and writing like some 17 year old on Urbis. Life takes over sometimes but it's just as important, the same goes for rest.

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