It's been so long since my last post, as the overwhelming burden of life just got in the way: putting together an MFA application, gathering transcripts, filling in forms, choosing writing samples, and having to condense all the mistakes and triumphs of my life and my future goals in a 500 word statement (who thought of that? It's more like journalism or business memos than creative writing); dealing with a perpetual house renovation that has been going on for over a year, that started to go wrong the minute after the house was bought and has left me marooned in a 40% finished house without a "room of my own" to write in, without even a shelf to house my books—a totally stressful situation; squabbling endlessly with the husband, for reasons stupid or serious but always hurtful; being stranded in a new city where, a year on, I have yet to find any footing, any true friends, any real sense of community; finding a job—after looking for work for a year—I'm totally overqualified and totally underpaid for—not great for my self-esteem. And finally, the icing on the cake: the onset of the winter blues that always weigh me down (on top of my everyday underlying depression)...
All the stuff of life one has to contend with, day in day out; many writers out there would tell me to get over it and get off my ass (or rather get it down on a chair) and "just write"; but sometimes that isn't the feasible or possible way. So after much agonizing and guilting myself (as if I needed any more guilt in my life) about not getting my book done, I've decided to give myself a break, a holiday, a respite.
I will continue to think about my book, to breathe it, dream it, write little notes to myself about it, to send out submissions, to revise the already written parts; but I'm not doing any serious writing for a while.
I've decided that, right now, I need the distance; and that I especially need a break at this particular time of the year when many are celebrating their being part of a family, a community, and I find myself instead totally alone and so far away from the few people in the world I hold dear.
I have always hated the holidays, and I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel that way; but I'd become the Grinch if I told people that, so I shut up and smile politely when people tell me how much they are going to enjoy their Christmas dinner, and complain to me about how little time they have for their Christmas shopping.
Inside, I feel like screaming. I have no great Christmas stories to tell anyone; all I can think of is the myriad Christmases that my mother ruined for me because she would always provoke a fight with my father on our way to dinner at his family's, whom she hated; I remember one particular Christmas when my mother was carrying on and must have insulted my uncle so badly that he threw a plate of tortellini in brodo at her, which missed and went on to smash itself on the wall behind our table, splattering chicken broth and filled pasta all over the black leather sofa underneath.
As if all these bad memories were not enough, my mother ruined Christmas once more, and forever, for me by dying during this holiday period—sometime between Christmas day, and the month of February when she was found dead. So celebrating Christmas or even pretending to find any joy in these winter months is just not an option for me.
I have always dreamed of a Christmas far away from Christmas, in a place where it is summer in winter, where, ideally, the population is not even Christian; every year, I dream of Christmas on the beach, basking in the sun, forgetting that it is Christmas, away from the glitter, tinsel, wrapping paper, decorations, religion.
So my probably very bad, unprofessional advice to all the writers who are feeling like me right now is: when you can't write because your life just gets in the way, not in the normal everyday manner that life always has of getting in the way of creativity, but in a huge, insurmountable way that gives you physical pains and heartache, just give yourself a break; take a holiday from your writing; dedicate yourself to healing the mind and the body for a while, and then get back to the work with a fresh eye.
That's what I have promised myself to do in the new year; in the meantime, I will keep updating this blog (hopefully at a faster rate than I have lately) and this will be my writing task for the holidays.