I may not have met you, but I bet you are a bit of an odd duck. For starters, you like to spend inordinate amounts of time with people who don’t exist. You love these imaginaries as if they were your children. You thrive when you are creating something; you feel crabby and constipated when you haven’t had enough creative space or time. And finally, your home has decent evidence of clutter and piled-up piles of stuff; as a creative, you are much better at generating words, art, stories, songs and piles than erasing them.
Not-writers don’t understand the magic (or the struggle) of spending thousands of hours with imaginary people. They don’t understand the challenge of flitting back and forth between writing and other-jobs; between writing and relationships. Not-writers have a hard time understanding why writing (merely moving one’s fingers over a keyboard) can feel, at the end of a session, like a terrible case of jet lag. Sometimes I don’t understand it either.
This summer I have doggedly found pockets of semi-productive writing time, but this has led to both social isolation and nap-needing. I understand why I miss my friends; it’s the passionate, desperate nap-needing that worries me. After plugging search phrases like “do I have cancer” and “African tsetse fly,” into the Google, I tried “exhausted writers” and “is creativity tiring,” and I found these wise words by Roald Dahl (taken from his memoir, Boy: Tales of Childhood):
Two hours of writing fiction leaves this particular writer absolutely drained. For those two hours he has been miles away, he has been somewhere else, in a different place with totally different people, and the effort of swimming back into normal surroundings is very great. It is almost a shock The writer walks out of his workroom in a daze . . .
My exhaustion, then, is legit, but what do I do about it? Because both my mental health and my family suffer when I am a crabby, sleep-deprived clotpole, I started rummaging around for a bit of extra sleeping time . . . looking under the bed, in between sofa cushions. With the singleton socks. In the junk drawers and piles of stuff that have no home. [Read more…]