As I wrote in one of my last blog posts, I just finished editing my novel some two weeks ago. The timing was precisely planned and damn was I proud to make it: my very first novel completed before my 35th birthday. And also, hours only before taking a two-week holiday break down South in the smouldering heat, sand and sea.
I had been looking forward to the time off, and especially to be able to indulge in reading some of the paperbacks that had been waiting patiently in a stack next to my bed. But also, I had planned to use the time well to get my brain shaken up a bit, refreshened and ready for new adventures.
I had taken one brand new notebook with me, as well as my favourite pens – yes, I’m weird like that, but not every ballpoint pen will do – and after a couple of days of non-productivity, I sort of freaked out. I had two, or maybe three ideas about how it the holiday writing would go:
I’d write extremely short short stories, making it at least ten stories during the holidays. Nothing happened. No inspiration so ever.
I’d start jotting down ideas and scenes for a new story. Brainstorm freely, get it all out there on paper and take advantage of the state of bliss and boundless freedom you feel when sipping a local beer on a foreign beach, while watching your kids play in the sand. I had one fragment of an idea once, when waking up from a weird dream… And I lay in bed trying to convince myself to get up and write it in that notebook… But then… I don’t know, it just felt like too much of an effort to get up and…
So I didn’t and the idea of course faded away, losing its appeal once I was past my first sip of tea until it slipped into the back if my mind, where it still lies, stuck, waiting to be unburied one day.
I finally convinced myself that maybe it was best to get that synopsis about my novel written so that it would be ready once I got home, and I could get on with sending it out to an editor. Now that would have been a really clever and responsible thing to do, right? Ugh no, didn’t do that one either…
What really happened
So here I am, two weeks later and with nothing to show for as far as the creative break goes. Nothing, nada, rien du tout.
And it took me a week to stop feeling guilty about it and cramming my brain, conjuring it to come up with some ingenious idea. Because that simply isn’t the way it works for me, at least not now that I worked my ass off to get that novel done. My brain is more or less fried, through and through. And not having done a thing, simply soaking up life around me and the stories I read until late into the night, was the best thing I could do, I guess.
I like to think of it like stopping in track on your vacation, where you’re desperately trying to cover everything you see in pictures, recording it for your facebook community and family to see, and to stop to actually look at the thing you were snapping a picture of.
A vacation for the brain, sort of, revigorating it for the next challenge at hand: the sequel to novel number 1.