I used to be a runner, and would like to be again (someday). I wasn’t into marathons or anything hardcore, but I ran enough to know about the plateau and the high: you struggle for the first few minutes to get to the plateau, then after you’re there, you feel like you could run for hours. Oh, glorious feeling! Hermes, ignite my feet!
There is something very similar in writing. A blank page (or a page of horrible writing) stares at you. You dread putting fingers to keyboard. The first few lines are a struggle, they limp along, but you continue to push (this is when you discover just how masochistic you are). Then, quite suddenly, you are in the throws of a marvelous character arc / subplot / description that could make angels weep. The clock shows that three hours have passed. The gods have whacked you on the head with their golden sceptres and the stars you see are showing up on the page.
I haven’t felt like this in months.
It’s not for lack of trying either. I show up at the page everyday (as divinely ordained by the oracles of How to be a Good Writer, see here and here), but what comes out is merely a wispy diatribe of dribble that sends my self-esteem cowering back into its storage closet to count the preserves. I want the high, I want the Muse to return, I am willing and able to — daily — climb the mountain to the plateau. It seems, however, that the climb is more akin to the apathy machine in “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” than a biblical trek through the desert.
I try to remember that with any form of physical exertion, there is a period of rest in which our bodies heal. The healing period allows us to move forward again more efficiently. It is like pulling the string of a bow back so that it may release the arrow. I’d like to think that my mind is somehow going through some period of healing, that I will one day wake up, run to my laptop and write furiously for days, spewing textual miracles that will enthrall and delight. But this scenario would, by necessity, require a preceding period of strenuous activity. Okay, granted, I published a novel a couple years ago, but that was a couple of years ago. Chop, friggin’ chop!!
Maybe a human sacrifice is in order. I wonder if a puppy would do….
Until then, I read, I ponder, I show up to the page, and I pray for the Muse to sneak up and pound me into submission.