The Christmas cactus under the living room window formed teeny tiny buds towards the end of October and over the last few weeks we’ve watched the buds grow and grow until finally it burst into bloom last week. Now the African violet on my desk is following suit, shooting up little bitty buds that slowly turn purple and carefully lift a petal one at a time. I’ve been feeling less the Christmas cactus in its current state of bloom and more the tightly closed buds on the African violet waiting to burst free.
I think every writer’s been here.
These dark moments when the doubt demons flare up. When there never seems to be time for the creative writing – all the “good” time gets allotted to things with deadlines. When you wonder if you’re ever really going to make it as a writer. And when that fleeting thought that maybe your mother was right and you really should have tried for law school after all passes through your brain with uncomfortable frequency.
I don’t think this feeling of general discomfit is limited to writers. Although the nags and worries might be slightly different, this is unease is just what the middle of November brings
Don’t get me wrong, the snow was (still is) pretty. But after too much time penned up in your home office, when the temperature won’t break above freezing and the skies have been grey for a week straight and the days keep getting shorter and shorter, it’s easy to get down into a “this might be the beginning of seasonal affective disorder" funk.
I ran into an acquaintance earlier this week who's been running a seasonal business for a long time: she’s used to the whole “winters off” concept and winding her way carefully through these short, grey days.
“Are you going nuts yet?” she asked. Then she reminded me of the value of this quiet winter time. This is meant to be the time for germinating ideas and allowing fleeting thoughts to percolate and grow in an organic setting. But I’m the kind of girl who loves the idea of whole, organic foods, but when given the choice between fresh squeezed guava juice and a diet Pepsi is going to shyly reach for the pop. Sometimes I don’t want percolation. Sometimes I want instant gratification.
But the middle of November is not about instant gratification. It’s about the gathering up the little light you have and slowly, slowly forcing your petals to unfurl.
Andy stumbled across this Stephen King quote the other day: “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn't bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”
We don’t actually have a light bill, but I’ve seen a typical utilities bill around here. And I have to say I have received several checks for my writing that could cover the light bill. Is that talent? Well, if it’s good enough for Stephen King, it’s good enough for me.
So I’ll keep at it. If Stephen King’s to be believed, this writing business is a good way to have “light.”