On Breaks And Breaking

Hello my dear friends and sometime loyal readers. It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, and I do apologise. I make no assurance of coming back regularly any time soon. I’m definitely not shutting down for good, although I’ve considered it. I’ve thought about posting a few things over the last couple of months, but the thing is when there’s been an absence, a silence, sometimes you get a little afraid as to which words are powerful enough to break it with. Sometimes I’ve enjoyed the silence, too. My world has been turned upside down, taken apart and put back together again without so many broken places, with less gaps, and sometimes it’s nice to be alone with the thoughts of that, the trying to figure out what it all means, without having to explain it and without having to make small-talk in the process. It’s been good, but “big” is an understatement.

The thing is this: I’ve been busy writing. This is a good thing. And the thing also is this: before that I was busy being lost, and wondering whether I’d write again, or what that would look like, and whether my writing dreams, like so many others before them, simply needed to die.

The odd thing about this is that this started after I’d finished writing my first book, a novel I was proud of, and went to my first writing conference. I don’t think it’s meant to happen that way, somehow, although the more people I talk to about this the more I find that my story isn’t all that unique. And not only in the writing world. How often, how many times, have we been striding somewhere purposefully only to find we’re going in the wrong direction? The closed door. The no door.

It was a hard day the one I realised that the book I was so proud of had a place in no camp, made harder by the fact that there were no real, clear, obvious answers. I was surrounded by loving friends who could hold my hand and sympathise with me, and for them I am eternally grateful, but none who could say “this is the way you should go. Go there”, or at least none who knew for sure.

I did lots of things. Imagine, if you like, me standing in the middle of an open field, with nothing but grass for miles and miles.

I walked. Or, at least, I wrote. I shelved the lost and placeless novel and struck out in some direction or another, without any real sense of which way was up, and a very real sense that I was now lost and needed to move, and I wrote pages and pages and more pages. I wrote character studies and backstory and plotted out development arcs. I was angry at my own lostness, and that anger coloured my work. After a while I tried to write a new plotline for the lost-and-placeless, hoping it would redeem it again, take it back to the place where I was once so proud of it, but the new plotline for the old novel was distracting me from the vision of what it originally was, and I was no longer sure whether I was re-plotting the old novel, or whether I should be in fact using those storylines in the new one that was slowly taking shape. There were no boundaries on either novel, and at times I wondered whether I needed to combine them. I walked in circles again and again, and then again, until in the end I gave up. 

Have you ever been there, to the walk in endless circles, with a map that keeps changing? Have you felt that bitter lostness, the purposeless so bone-deep it makes you want to abandon even the most important journey?

You can’t google something that doesn’t exist yet. You can’t cheat, and look up the character notes on a story not yet written. I know this. I’ve done it.

They were hard months. Sure, it’s easy to say “it’s only a book! Why didn’t you just do something else?”, and there were times I thought exactly that, and times that I tried. But giving up is harder on a dream is harder than being lost, because giving up is forever, and you’re still walking around a grassy plain with no sense of direction.

In the end I stumbled upon a map of sorts, in the form on a 4-week online course, so I sat down, wrote nothing, and waited. It saved me. The course taught me a few things I already knew, and lots of things I didn’t, and it gave me one huge gem: the confidence I needed to trust my instinct.

That was June/July. It wasn’t so long ago.

I’m telling you all this because I’m almost finished rewriting my second chapter of my lost-and-placeless novel, and even though I’m battling with the feeling that I should have been here months ago, that I was the kid in the sports carnival who ran in the wrong direction, I’m proud of this book, and proud of where it’s going. I may not be where I expected to be twelve months ago, but at least I’m heading in the right direction. Having lost hope, having been forced to give up my dreams, I found them again.

It’s no small irony too that this is the theme of my novel. Art imitates life. Again.

Let me encourage you today my friends. Have you given up on your dream? Do you, today, feel like you’re walking in circles with no sense of direction? Do you feel like everybody else has already ran the race and you’ve just finished tying your shoelaces?

It’s okay.

I’d say a million platitudes here, but sometimes they’re more confusing than anything. I do know that hope deferred makes the heart sick, and a longing fulfilled is a tree of life. I do know that journeys suck sometimes, and sometimes it’s hard to find someone to run with who understands, or someone who is able to mourn with us as we mourn. I do know that what seems like it should take about three months can sometimes take three years – or, Heaven help us – three decades. All of that sucks, pretty much. None of it is easy. But if you feel like that today, let me tell you you’re not alone.

I’m not going to tell you what to do, but maybe take a break before you break. It may give you the strength you need to keep on going!

 

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12 thoughts on “On Breaks And Breaking

  1. I found out recently that one of my favorite books, Eva Moves the Furniture, by Margot Livesey, took ten years to write. No one can tell you how long things take. The important thing is to give yourself permission to follow your passion and write. Just write, and forget time, forget should. Many times I scroll through my blog reader without stopping, but I always stop to read you. That should tell you something, right there.

    • Margaret you are absolutely right about forgetting time and should, and I’m trying hard to do that. I know it won’t matter at all in the end, and I can’t let it bother me now.
      I’m intrigued about Eva Moves The Furniture, simply by the title. I’m a chronic furniture mover. Might have to check that one out!
      And thank you so much for stopping to read. You’ve encouraged me greatly, right there!

    • Yeah, I’m holding on to that thought. And the fact that if I give up now everything that’s come before it is then wasted. I’m in too deep. This is a good thing 🙂

  2. Way to go Megan. Yes it is BIG. Keep pointing that compass to North and enjoy the do’s without the having to do’s. Keep stepping in with boldness, faith and determination – and someday I will look forward to reading this lost and placeless novel you speak of.

    Blessings xx

  3. Hi Megan. You’re not alone. I too, am one of the throng of writers who’s child was born, but failed to grow through lack of nourishment, or distraction, or uncertainty or any of the million other reasons a novel loses momentum. I recently dusted off my own manuscript and began writing again. It’s very difficult to pick up from where you left off, but I believe it’s like running a marathon – you have to train for it. Keep running, every day, gradually increasing the distance until you gain the fitness to complete the course.

    Best wishes for you and your million-seller!

    • Peter that’s a good analogy, the child who was born but failed to grow. Well done on picking yours up again. You’re right, it’s definitely a marathon, and in the end (because there’s nothing like throwing a new metaphor in the mix between writers 🙂 ) like with the birth of a baby, we’ll forget the tears, sweat and anguish, and just remember the joy of beholding our finished products. Good luck, and thanks!

  4. Reading this again today my amazing friendŠ.you did write this for me?!:-)

    Love you and so with you in this journeyxx Kind Regards,

    Bernie

    Bernadette Black Founding Director Brave Foundation Councillor; Kingborough Council

    Barnados Australian Mother of the Year, and Finalist Australian of the Year

    Address: PO Box 130 Blackmans Bay, 7052 Phone: 0404060507 http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=91610075&trk=nav_responsive_tab_prof ile

    From: Megan Sayer Reply-To: Megan Sayer Date: Saturday, August 23, 2014 8:25 AM To: Bernadette Black Subject: [New post] On Breaks And Breaking

    WordPress.com Megan Sayer posted: “Hello my dear friends and sometime loyal readers. It’s been a while since I’ve been on here, and I do apologise. I make no assurance of coming back regularly any time soon. I’m definitely not shutting down for good, although I’ve considered it. I’ve thoug”

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