Winter doldrums. Mental wheels stuck in a snowdrift. I come to the writing after the workday (and on precious weekends) without the whole-hearted energy for it that so often fills me with delighted anticipation.

I’m slogging on the current chapter. I’ve been at it for two-plus weeks now (including the time spent in Hot Springs.) I nip away at it, drudging along as a donkey must feel on a steep uphill slope. On a couple of nights, I had severe cases of  what-do-you-think-you’re-on-about-itis, and just closed up shop and took my saddened psyche off to sleep.

No beautiful ideas nudge me in the night. No thrilling turns of phrase send me running for the tape recorder. I am in full-out flat mode. I don’t move forward; I rewrite. Dutifully. Diligently. Without inspiration.

And yet. And yet. I’ve been saving a special part of the chapter for when I have the time to devote my full mental energy to doing it right. Spending the time grooming the chapter-so-far, weeding, rearranging has kept my hand in, but has not once taken my breath. Until last night.

I’ve been hideously dyslexic, lately. Reading aloud is sometimes the only way I can understand what’s before me on the page. And from that reading came a small gift. A few turns of phrase that surprised me. Progressions of thought that stopped me—in a good way. Things that seemed to have come to the page without me.

Out came the tape recorder. I don’t usually record an unfinished chapter. I stay away from the sound of my own voice until I have at least a suspicion that I won’t be disappointed when I listen to myself in the darkness.

Oh my. Oh my. Better than I’d thought. Better than I’d hoped. To an ear not in the least inclined to be forgiving toward my feeble efforts came music. Complexity. Sense. Power. And it happened without me. Despite me.

Wonders. For a writer, they never cease.