Reclaiming the Artist Within

I’ve been sidetracked this summer, really for most of last year. I was teaching at a school where I wasn’t happy and was overworked, so much so that I developed a cyst on my vocal chords from talking for seven hours straight, five days a week. I resigned from that position earlier this year before we found out that my husband was losing his job. Yikes! To say we had a stressful spring and early summer is putting it mildly. During the year I wanted to keep the promise I had made to myself to finish my novel before Christmas. My Christmas deadline turned into an April deadline which became an end of the summer deadline. Will I meet that deadline this time? Hmmm…too early to tell. It’s possible, especially if I have days like I had yesterday for the rest of August. Just as I sense a change in the seasons with our lovely warm days cooling to chilly nights worthy of the down comforter again, I sense a change in my writing life.

Yesterday I sat down to edit a blog post I had written because I can’t stand to put something out in the world and leave the mistakes in. The English teacher in me cringes at the thought! I edited that post and published it after my English-major-college-literary-magazine-editor-son edited it for me as well. Then, lo and behold, I opened my file for my novel and began writing a scene that had stymied me for the entire summer. I wrote until it was time for supper, had supper, then wrote some more until I had written 1,277 words! That hasn’t happened in the longest time. I’m not sure if I tricked myself into being able to write by opening my file without preamble, no thinking about that scene, or if it was just time. The well had finally filled with enough words that it wouldn’t hold anymore until I spilled those hoarded ones onto the page.

Whatever happened, I feel like my writer self again, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me. My year of rarely writing and being miserable in my work life had taken its toll on my creative process. The creative side of my personality was shriveling, fading away, and I had no idea how to get it back. Last weekend, however, I attended Arts on the Square, an art festival here in Waupaca that stresses interacting with the arts, and that is what I did. I bought a lovely print that inspired me by an even lovelier young artist, Ashley Megal; made a clay tile for the clay quilt that will be glazed by local artists and displayed somewhere in Waupaca for all to see; and watched a Shakespearean troupe perform. There was much more I didn’t mention, but doing those small things seemed to give me a boost, like a vitamin B injection for my creative side. In the words of George Costanza, “I’m back, Baby. I’m back!” I played around with art and did things I hadn’t done in a very long time. Opening up to creativity helped me see possibilities within myself and interests I had set aside.

That is what happens to us as writers sometimes. Life gets in the way. We can’t ignore it, but as soon as we can, we must reclaim the artist within and forge ahead. Lately I’ve been struggling to find a good time to write now that I will not be teaching this year, but I haven’t found when my muse shows up willingly. Perhaps there is no perfect time, only time itself whenever it can be carved out of life. All I know is that right now I feel good about where my writing life is going. I also am excited about where Faith and Josiah, my hero and heroine, are headed. They have almost reached the end of their journey together, and when they do, I will have reached the end of the first draft of my first novel! Now that is an accomplishment worth celebrating! For now I will continue to show up at the page whenever I can and let my characters take me on the wild ride that is writing.

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