Monday, April 30, 2012

Just Call Me Alexander

Cover art from the children's book by Judith Viorst

"I think I'll move to Australia."
~ Judith Viorst, from Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Last Monday, I sprained my ankle. I was trail running, about halfway through my run, and it just happened. Crunch. Stumble. Much cursing. (Unfortunately including the F-bomb. I'm certain I offended the rhondodendron, and I hope they'll forgive me.) It HURT.  

It took me about 40 minutes to hike out of the forest, and though I'd been giving myself a pep talk on the hike (okay, limp), by the time I got to my car I knew it to be true: I'd sprained my ankle badly enough to put me out of exercise commission for at least a week. 

It's difficult for me to sit still on a pretty day. And since I've just returned to trail running over the past few months, it thoroughly annoys me that this (insert Daffy Duck-stuttered expletives here) injury will set me back--in my fitness and weight loss goals. But that, I suppose, is life. The fact that  I haven't sprained an ankle since I was in my 20s doesn't help, either. Oh, and lest I forget: hobbling around on crutches while chasing a 2 1/2 year old is loads of fun.

So, the ankle sprain set me up for a week of sitting, elevating, icing, Advil-popping. I tried to stay off it as much as I could, but this was next to impossible.

You would think, wouldn't you, that this would be the perfect excuse for writing. That I'd embrace my immobility and get cracking on my new novel, or on the pages of creative and critical work I've got to send to my grad school advisor soon... too soon. But I couldn't make it happen. The words just weren't there, and neither was the (gasp) inspiration.

Lately, as I told my husband last night, I've felt a little lost. It's been a difficult period, this time after my first novel has been sold, edited, and is now awaiting publication. I'm a bit worn out. And I crave the thrill and excitement I felt when writing the novel: I miss those 16-page days where I wrote well into the night, on a writer's high. I want them back. 

Over the weekend, my husband took my daughter to see her grandparents on Hilton Head Island, where they live. It was the perfect, rare chance for me to have a weekend alone, just for writing--for me to work hours upon hours on my fiction and grad school assignments and on my teacherly schoolwork, for me to embrace being alone in my house for more than a few hours... something that is so rare I'm not actually sure when the last time was that this happened.

But I was... lonely. Surprisingly so. And uninspired. And really, thoroughly, annoyed about my ankle, which continued to ache. Normally, I adhere to the "suck it up" philosophy instilled in my sister and me by my Dad throughout our childhoods. Yes, it can be brutal. Yes, at times unsympathetic. But it's in me, and it isn't going anywhere. For some reason, though, I couldn't make it happen over the weekend. I had periods of efficiency and productivity, and then I slipped back into petulance. Like Alexander after he'd dropped his ice cream cone.

This is not attractive in a 30s-ish year-old woman, and I'm glad no one was around to see it. (Okay, my dog was there. And she just ignored me.)

I need a cure. A cure for this writerly ennui.

Anyone remember that fabulous Gilmore Girls episode, where Michel decides he's got ennui, and passes it on to Sookie. This is how I feel.

Any suggestions?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Pretend you have no book contract. No previous high, no pressure to match something already passed. Pretend you are writing like you first were, like your life depends on it, like this next book is the one you must write. It's easier said than done, but man does it help me. Success can be a bitch when it holds you back from the next thing...