Taking a Break — but Not Really

September 12, 2011

I meant to take Labor Day Weekend off. I’d worked frantically and frenetically to finish my experimental young adult novel by the 31st of August. Pretty much accomplished my goal. Over 70k words, and some good editing / revising. I needed a break after that intense month of writing. Not to mention the horrifying realization that all I’d done was give myself three novels in revision instead of two.

But then it got hot. We’ve had such a gloriously cool summer so far, with too much snow remaining in the mountains for my son’s backpacking endeavors. I know many will say I’m complaining irrationally. Ninety degree days in September are not so bad compared to ninety degree days in July / August. The temperature goes up and down quickly — a spike rather than a long curve on a graph. And our nights almost always fall into the 50s. But I am very heat intolerant, and even with air conditioning it enervates me.

Thus my break became, so far, twelve days. I’ve stopped reading so many blogs and articles, read a few good books instead of (hopefully)  writing them, and didn’t post on either blog or on twitter. Which, by the way: I find I am using twitter more and more for posting interesting articles I find, and finding interesting articles to read. So less posting here.

Not a break from thinking, of course. As always, when I take time away from writing I find ideas rise.  In this case, too, I’ve been dreaming.

I’m not one for ‘interpreting’ dreams, but it is also quite obvious that sometimes dreams are telling you things.  Funnily enough, the last five nights I have had astonishingly clear dreams. No bizarre symbols or abstruse analogies. My dreams have been acting out, clearly and precisely, the issues I am grappling with. And, as a bonus, leading me into that marvelous light-wakefulness where ideas are born like Aphrodite from Zeus — whole and complete. I now know what my next project will be, how to work out a complicated emotional issue in the main novel under edit, and how to shape my time wisely to achieve (hopefully) my goals.

I am still pursuing little goals in the hopes of training myself for the larger ones. It seems to be working. I am making myself do things I am afraid of, reaching out to people I would previously been hesitant to approach, and remembering to do little things that make a big difference in mood. I am hiking (walking, if you’re a serious hiker) and have discovered a new and beautiful lake (not hard to do in this part of the world), and am finding out how very many wonderful hikes/ walks there are within a few minutes of town.

Last night we went for a walk under a salmon-pink full moon. A ten minute drive from home, up a path through an oak and fir forest to emerge in a hilltop meadow. The lights of town below, the Coastal Mountains silhouetted against the dying sunset, a strong, cold breeze blowing away the last heat of the day. Then back into the shadowy forest, leaves rustling, crickets and frogs chirping, and that wonderful full moon apparently dancing about in the clear sky as the trail twisted its way down the hillside.

This walk will, of course, be found in a story eventually. If only I had the right words to evoke how it actually was….

Taking this unexpectedly long break has also allowed me to reaffirm my plans for my life. The hardest parts of any life-change are patience and consequences. Patience to go slowly, and to work through setbacks with steadfast resolve.  And consequences, or the fear of, are debilitating. One must be constantly assessing and reassessing what one is doing, what one is working toward, to minimize harm to others and to self, but also to be ready to answer if opportunity knocks.

I wish I had a better sense of balance for such teeter-tottery living. However, my dreams seem to be convinced that I’m clear on what’s important to me. I hold fast to that in the midst of all the uncertainties.

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