After a short illness and the subsequent slow return to my writing schedule, I began feeling like my old self again, although a general physical lethargy still lingered. Still I managed to complete a few assignments, send off several queries, do some work on my books, read outstanding articles and reports, clean up my desk and some other writing-related tasks. Nevertheless, the last few days of this week, I noticed a slow descent into the all-too-familiar writing fog.
What a bomber! I didn't need that. I was doing so well, you know, getting things done, accomplishing a few goals. I had begun to feel like a writer again. I could really do without this roller-coaster experience right now.
For the past year, it's been three weeks on the mountain or at least climbing the mountain with a consistent stride, a relatively comfortable rhythm followed by a week or sometimes two, of valley blah's.
Oh the joys of the writing life.
But the valley experience doesn't have to be a BLAH. It could be a writing retreat. I've enjoyed those retreats before, but they come too frequently. A couple times a year would be preferable.
When they turn up as often as they do, I get frustrated. I want to relax and reflect when I choose. I don't want it forced upon me. Good grief man, I have work to do. I don't have time for this.
But guess what, if you aspire to be a writer you have to be prepared for these valley days or weeks or even longer sometimes. Yeah I know, longer? What purpose do they serve?
Most often, it is in the valley that we get to spend quality time with ourselves, our real selves, our heart, our core values, our passion -the genesis of and the vision for our passion.
When I set aside complaining about it, it is in my valley days that I reconnect with my writing in a way that climbing the mountain doesn't allow. And for that I am grateful.
Standing in the valley, surrounded by the fog of dissatisfaction, and feelings of inadequacy about projects never started, opportunities I missed, goals not yet pursued or achieved among other things, I am aware that high up on a ledge on the mountainside, I often forget:
- the simplicity of the early days in the valley when all I had was a dream and a prayer.
- the early thrill of those first sporadic assignments.
- the nervous approaches made to editors only to find them professional, courteous and helpful as opposed to my preconceived expectations.
- the writers who motivated me by their example, their work and their advice to not just go after my dream but to chase it passionately.
- the heart-felt support I received from my family and the cheering section made up of my dearest friends and other well-meaning individuals.
- the readers who continue to inspire me when they email to say thanks for being and example and an inspiration to them.
Today I revel in my valley days. Thank God for them.
As you pursue your own writing dream, whatever you want to write, don't discount the benefit of the valley experiences that will undoubtedly visit you on your way up the mountain and pull you back down to sit there for a while. Welcome them, embrace them, enjoy and soak up the blessing they bring to your life: the renewal of your passion, the re-focusing of your vision, the enlivening of your soul and the empowering of your mind to follow your dream, to be the best writer you can be.