It was inevitable, I guess, that one morning I would wake without an idea in my head.

It happens.

My brain and my energy have conspired to draw a curtain between me and my creative self. Where I generally look inside to find a delightfully roiling well of thoughts—or at least a reassuring glimpse that the ideas are there, somewhere—this morning I look on upon blankness. As I say, it happens.

Maybe it comes from last night’s change of routine. Or the resoundingly disappointing numbers this space has been gathering lately. Maybe it’s the ions in the atmosphere. Or the exercise I skipped that would have sent oxygen to my brain. Maybe it’s PTSD (post-tired stress disorder.) Maybe it’s the alignment of the planets. For the moment (and I know very well that this is a circumstance that could change in the next five minutes) there is not a thought to be found in me anywhere.

I know that the blankness will change. But I don’t like it.

My characters, so near me so recently, won’t speak to me. They won’t even entertain the suggestion that they come walk nearby so I can watch them, a voyeur in my own world. My plot lay on the ground like a dead butterfly. The notebook, that repository of hope, is still a treasure, but it does not glow in the dark.

This is not writer’s block. It’s a doldrum. I know that. Often, acknowledging this feeling is enough to release it. In the meantime, I’ll hang on to whatever image floats nearest to my hand (the first meeting of the main character, a highly unexpected situation; I’ll hold the exciting new bits of soundtrack music I’ve discovered (Philip Glass, Steve Reich and a few other contemporary composers) for listening on the weekend. And I’ll wait. I’ll live—not as the joyful denizen of created worlds but as an alien being, stripped of my superpowers under an alien red sun.

Most of all, I’ll try not to worry about it. The curtain drew itself for a reason. And even if I can’t figure out what that reason was, I know that I must address it with the same patience I so willingly offer the gathering of the story…to the things that happen in their own time.

The writer’s job is to listen. Even if that means listening to ourselves.