I had such high hopes for this trip to the river house, my first visit back home in seven months. I expected that the place would pick up my imagination as it has so often done, in the manner of a knight on a white horse, to carry me away to a Camelot of creativity.
Four days in, and I’m still waiting.
Have I worked at the writing? Yes. Every day. Have there been moments of writerly abandon? Absolutely. But am I dancing in my head, ready to leap to the page from the moment I open my eyes?
Perhaps I expected too much from this time off; hoped for too much. But I don’t think so. The demand, the wish, is deeper and more lasting than the vagaries of a particular emotion (or lack of) on a given week.
I want the words and phrases and emotions to rattle me awake. I want the characters to chase me from room to room of the plot like an amorous suitor. I want the book to write itself through me. It hasn’t happened. Not so far.
It isn’t just the book. I look out at the magnificent greenery, drink in the heady smells, find pleasure in the sights and sounds of birds. But I am not transported. I appreciate all that I am given, but I experience it as I would regard a piece of homemade lemon meringue pie through the surface of a glass case: I am absolutely certain that it will taste and smell delightful, but it is not a delight I can feel.
I am the writer at the dance, sitting on the sidelines without a partner. I have gotten my arts confused. I hear the music, I watch the footwork on the floor, but it is not a language ready to my ear. I can describe it but I do not experience it.
At times like these, I must find the Zen in me. I must work patiently and persistently through the Meh and wait for joy to find its home in me again. If I can do nothing else, I will groom the page and smooth it and fall back on craft. I will smile in that inner place just shy of the ecstatic, and wait for the heart to come back into me.
I may not dance, but neither will I stand still.