As this writer finds herself in a new life—with new laws of being, of feeling, of doing—there are new rules to living. These are the self-created laws that reveal her approach to creativity. And sometimes, they ask her to redefine it.
These days, at the end of tiring writing sessions, I have had to impose martial law…to go all badge-and-nightstick on myself. The voice that says “Put the story down and step away from the laptop” is one I have a hard time obeying.
Laying the work down can be a tough thing to do…especially when taking into account the work’s exquisite ability to chase the isolations that stalk the room when night falls. To let the story sit unattended, just an arm’s reach away, when there are waking hours to be had? Nahhhh. To let the damned thing sit and simmer overnight? Ask me, instead, to poke myself with sharp sticks.
I am rebellious by nature. And this is a directive that incites revolution.
There are plenty of good reasons for this self-imposed law. I see their results every day. Distance is perspective; it bestows a better judgment, in a writer, than the heat of chapter-passion permits. Problems resolve themselves in the enforced time away. Mistakes become clear. Grace is discovered. The chapter, the passage, the plot, the character: They develop a richness when they are given a chance to breathe.
The setting-aside of the work requires a kind of patience that I haven’t yet learned to master. Forcing one’s self back into the page, when the thing ought to be left to percolate on its own, is almost always a colossal mistake. The gimme of the moment does no service to the result. Rarely does anything of value get accomplished in the brain-weary hours when the thing is better left alone.
But in the addiction to the pursuit, the temptation is always there for one more taste; that itchy hope that there is one more pleasure to be had, one more sentence that will speak itself clear. That is when the writer needs to lock herself up and throw away the key.
Lay it down. Stop picking at it. Give it a rest. Geez.
There ought to be a law.