Making Time

There’s a song by Little River Band called Cool Change and this is part of the lyric:

If there’s one thing in my life that’s missing
It’s the time that I spend alone
Sailing on the cool and bright clear waters
It’s kind of a special feeling
When you’re out on the sea alone
Staring at the full moon like a lover

I love that song. It expresses a sentiment that resonates with me right now. The past few weeks have been wildly hectic and stressful, with the demands of work doing battle with the joy of time spent with family. But there have been some quiet moments. With the holidays backed up to weekends and a sick day thrown in, I have had more than the usual number of non-work days recently. And a couple times I’ve found myself unexpectedly alone in a quiet house. With time to think.

I made a conscious decision about three months ago to stop writing. To take a break. I had been beating myself up over not having the time or concentration to write. Every second or third thought seemed to be, I should be writing. But I was too busy and the holidays were coming and there was too much clutter in my head. I wasn’t accomplishing anything with the ms. I got to the point where the work I knew it needed loomed as large and daunting as The Twelve Labours of Hercules. The re-write seemed too substantial and difficult and beyond my abilities. I felt overwhelmed and inadequate. So I decided to just stop trying. For a time. While it was a scary feeling — because, oh god, what if I never wrote again — it was also liberating.

But I think things have been percolating. Swirling around up there in the gray matter and biding their time. Waiting. Because now when I have a quiet moment alone, the story floods my brain. This is significant to me because it hasn’t happened in months. Yeah, I’ve endured more than a few bleak moments of self-doubt and despair.

The other day I woke up to a dark overcast morning sky and the sound of a heavy steady rain on the roof and in the street. The dog and cat were still snoring at the far end of the bed so I just lay there for a while, thinking. Not doing anything, not focusing on the next task or the schedule of the coming day. Not worrying about anything, damn it. Just thinking. Letting words come as they may. And they were all story.

I think I’m almost ready to tackle this beast again and wrestle it to the ground once and for all. To make all the words and sentences and paragraphs line up and form the story that wants out of my head. It’s a good story and I need to tell it. And I will.

The only thing missing is the time that I spend alone. Just me and the voices.

And that’s as close as I’m going to get to a New Year’s resolution. My thoughts on that nonsense have not changed much since I wrote about this holiday a year ago.


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5 responses to “Making Time

  1. Mary needs a cooler name...

    Just stumbled upon a website where people try to tell a whole story in one fairly terse sentence. Amazingly, some people manage to pull it off:

    It reminded me of Hemingway’s comment about what to do when you feel stumped. (paraphrasing) “Just write one true sentence.”

    Hope your New Year is going well and you’re feeling better!

    bfsffal – an exclamatory comment, oft used when breaking a New Year’s resolution


  2. BCB

    Interesting link, Mary. I looked at the “most popular” ones and wanted to edit almost every one of them. [sigh]

    The hard part is not writing one sentence, it’s the true part.


  3. LtL

    The hard part is writing 20,000 decent sentences. L. O. L. Samantha Graves explained why she took up writing: she wanted a hobby that would consume her. Consume her.

    Got no words of wisdom, but know that I’m pulling for you.


  4. McB

    I’m just happy to hear that you are getting back to it. I get the ‘taking a break’ part. It’s supposed to be something you want to do, not something you are obligated to do. And it sounds like now your muse is ready to begin again. Can’t wait to read it. Have you got my inscription picked out yet?


  5. jenb

    Glad to see you have had the time to let the voices and light back in.
    It is good to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
    I am very much looking forward to reading this book. The glimpse you have given are so tantalizing.