Those of you who know me well know that when it comes to meeting my daily writing quota, I’m resolute. Tenacious. Unswerving. I’m like a raccoon with my paw stuck in a small-necked cookie jar; I’d rather walk around with my hand encased forever in glass than let go of the cookie. Or in my case, the wordcount.
Recently I talked with a very dear friend who said that he didn’t write every day. It wasn’t in his nature. Then he said, teasing, “Of course, I’m no slouch. I’ve written fourteen books.” I might’ve taken that as a good prescription for a writing life, but I can’t. Because writing every day is in my nature.
When I sit down to write, usually at night, it marks the full stop to my busy day. I go into my office, open the window, and exhale. For however long it takes me to do my .87 pages (more on that later) I get to play with words and ideas and imagined places and people. It’s a joy, even when it’s hard.
So not writing every night for the past month—while my family was off school and work over the holidays, while there were more events than usual to attend, and while I was recovering from a minor foot surgery—made me angsty. But then another friend said to me, “Your writing is your passion, but it’s also your job. So you deserve to have some time off just like everyone else. Think of it as a vacation.”
And I did. Since I started writing my first novel in February 2005, this was my first “vacation” from writing fiction on a nightly basis. Was it a good vacation? Sure, insasmuch as I had a lot of fun doing other things. Will I do it again? Maybe. But I’m not necessarily looking forward to the next one. I look forward to my nightly odysseys of imagination more. I will admit however, that the past two nights, since I’ve been back on the job, I’ve felt refreshed and focused. So maybe it was a good thing after all.