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Cathy: Uninspired

I don’t know if it’s because I’m still waiting for some feedback on my manuscript, or because of the weather and time of year, or because I recently completed my first larger scale writing project since my thesis in college about 20 years ago, but for a couple months now, I have felt completely uninspired to write.

In the past, when I have felt this uninspired, I generally have felt depressed or frustrated by the absolute emptiness of my head. This time around I just feel pooped which can be attributed to the lack of sleep with a toddler who still wakes three times a night at least. The other feeling I have is vaguely satisfied, generally upbeat. Now, again, I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the manuscript or just maturity level over aged forty.

It’s summer and all the kids are as around as a teen can be when all his friends are back from their extended vacations that did not coincide with his visit to his father the previous month. S is always around, hovering upstairs drawing and reading or tapping me on the shoulder and Momming me repeatedly; and of course, Baby C is generally underfoot, when she’s not on top of something like Honey’s closed laptop on his desk. So, for me to sit in front of the computer is generally a continuously interrupted thing to do times three. During the school year, I generally have the mornings to myself, with my mother-in-law out doing her exercise thing (which is better than I can say for myself in that arena), and of course, C is still with me constantly.

I think some of this lack of inspiration is just the simple down time from writing something that was a huge deal for me to finish, so to speak. A first draft is a first draft, after all, and I am very aware that what I wrote is not a completed novel. But I wrote the story from beginning to end over one hundred pages. To me, that’s a big deal, not the page number, but the story arc, the things that the main character, who felt like one of my own kids, underwent and his growth and transformation.

I think this month especially has been one of considerable downtime, maybe a fallow field. Usually, when I lived in New England, anyway, the inspiration really starts popping like corn as soon as the first hint of autumn is in the air. So I wonder if some of this is just the dog days of a hot, humid August for me.

S’s eleventh birthday is on the 26th. This and Kenny’s advancement to high school and C’s toddlerdom have really had me considering the constant mutability of time. It seems not so long ago that my boys were C’s age, reaching those initial milestones. Time is simultaneously standing still and speeding by for me. I am constantly considering what is important to pay attention to in the long run, as my children are representing three distinct developmental stages.

I am also in the process of applying for positions outside of my home after a considerable amount of time in which I focused on my kids, my recovery after bedrest pregnancy and my manuscript. In some ways it was a necessary luxury, as Kelly mentioned in comments on Brittany’s recent post that must end. I took offense to the term luxury when Kelly used it, but I can see now is that it is a luxury to be able to be home, to be available to see the magic daily that is the kids growing and changing before my very eyes. Maybe some of the lack of inspiration can be attributed to refocusing on the outside world after being very insular for a long time.

While I have been very philosophically minded, I have not felt the urgency to write that has largely defined my life. This is the first time that to be so uninspired feels like a good thing.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. i think sometimes our brains just need to rest. whether you’re a writer or a visual artist, breaks are important. of course, i tend not to follow my own advice as i was just reviewing one of my regular blogs i read and realized i completely forgot about the quilting challenge i said i wanted to try… sorry it if hit a nerve with my “luxury” comment, but it looks like you got my point after all. 🙂

    August 26, 2009
  2. Brittany #

    Cathy, I feel the same way. I can’t write worth squat in the summer. It’s hopeless. My brain is too over-heated. As soon as the weather crispens, I turn right back on and from October to December I do my best writing. My brain gets too cold to think much again until mid-March, and I write without problems until it gets too hot again. It’s all cyclical.

    I’m having a very productive summer writing break though. The closets are cleaned out. Craft projects are getting finished. Book research is being conducted. Boys are being played with. I feel really good.

    I’m coming to realize that productivity of this sort is necessary for my sanity. It’s not all about the writing after all.

    August 26, 2009
  3. brittany, i think you finally hit the nail on the head of understanding my own creativity cycles!

    i do a lot of baking when i get too cold to think. and it’s just to hot and humid to do much of anything in august except find someplace shady or a/c’d to read or watch the kids play in the surf.

    August 27, 2009
  4. kelly, i still have a hard time with considering being a stay at home mother as a luxury. i spend so much time with my kids, that time for myself becomes moot, as do adult conversation or a mental space for anything.

    however, i do appreciate that i can be here and be the one to teach and observe the early milestones, and to provide the foundation for the older kids to branch out to the neighborhood and beyond. k can go out and safely assume he will not be locked out of the house. and s knows if he wanders too far, i come calling.

    August 27, 2009
  5. Kristine #

    Cathy, I know how you feel, and I agree that writing moods have a lot to do with the seasons. It’s the end of summer. I think everyone is on vacation at least mentally if not physically.

    I’m slowly getting back into my own manuscript after my vacation last week. It’s tough. Once you break the groove, it’s a real chore to get back into the swing of things.

    I’m sure that in another month, you’ll be back to writing with full force and renewed enthusiasm.

    August 27, 2009
  6. how did i miss responding to this earlier? kristine, excellent points, and yes, i am cracking open my manuscript critiques now as i have two of them back. not nearly as bad as i feared….so far…not that i feared much, but you know, too close for too long…

    August 31, 2009
  7. I wonder — is there a difference between feeling uninspired and feeling uncommitted? It’s one thing to think “crap, I really just don’t want to sit down and do the work” (uncommitted) and “gee, here I am in front of the page, and I just can’t come up with anything to write about!” (uninspired). Or is the point that a critical mass of inspiration results in the required commitment?

    September 6, 2009
  8. i’m glad you brought that up, miranda. i definitely was in the second camp. i was still sitting here at the computer, but needed a breather on the writing….with a little perspective now, i realize that i accomplished the biggest continuous piece of writing i’ve ever written. it was time to lie low, decompress my brain. digest ‘hey i did that! i wrote a novel!’

    September 6, 2009

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