A small part of my mind has been closed off for about twelve weeks now. I have walked the corridors outside its door many times, hesitating to perhaps look in as if checking on a sick child. Each time, however, I have resisted the temptation and gone about my business satisfied that all was well within.
For a while I became concerned that what lay in that room had withered and died - faded away into nothing more than a clouded memory but something drove me on to persist with my absence and let it have time to rest. Instinctively, I knew that the thing which I had confined had been worked harder than it had ever been for some time and needed to recover.
On the sixth of December last year I completed the final chapter of a novel that I had poured myself into, intensively, for a little more than six months. Carving out an average of a thousand words a day, it staggered into bed at just short of one hundred and fifty thousand words. I knew in my heart that those words were, quite possibly, not assembled in the right order and might even be the wrong words for the job. Certainly, there were more than required but for the time being they served the purpose of painting the picture I wanted to release from my imagination.
Since that day in December I have made no attempt to put my fingers to the keyboard to write anything of substance. With the exception of a few journal entries I have observed a complete abstinence which has been due in part to having nothing of any interest to say. So complete was my exploration of the grand designs of my novel idea that I had exhausted every creative avenue and emptied all the resources I had for new ideas. Rather than face the futility and disappointment of flogging a crippled steed I concluded that a sojourn was better than a battle. Far better that I let it lie than try to ride the stumbling creature and fall, taking the humiliation which that brings.
I am convinced that my inactivity these last few months are not a case of writer’s block (which, in any case, implies that a writer cannot move forward) so much as a case of a writers ‘conclusion’ - a situation where a train of thought finally arrives at its intended destination. Having disembarked from the train I find myself now striding the platform’s length looking at posters for other exciting places to visit.
But now it is time to unlock that attic room. I have heard the plaintive cries from within and know that the thing is alive and well. Awakening from winter hibernation, it now seeks sustenance and attention which I once more feel capable of offering. Our time apart has been a period of recovery for us both as I have spent my time living a life and observing the very things which I have previously attempted to document. Now that the dark days and icy winds have receded, my internal store of snapshots and character sketches is renewed and together I believe that we can, once more, embark on adventures new as spring begins to surge around me. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest. When the words won’t flow - don’t force them (they are unforgiving). Do something else instead.