Intermission


I need a break. From writing.

Everyone needs a break from time to time, I believe, even when it’s from something they love doing, and I do love writing, more than I love, say, calling up a client’s landlord to yell at them or trying to talk some bigshot million-dollar attorney into slumming it with a volunteer case.

I need a break from writing and I know this because these days, it’s all been turning up dark. Perhaps you’ve noticed. You can admit it. Even if you didn’t notice my whole bit about the multiverse-suicide thing or the crying-at-Shane’s-feet-for-all-Eternity thing, then you couldn’t help but have noticed by the time I got around to the one about the homeless drunk woman coughing up blood in my back seat.

That story doesn’t get any brighter, by the way.

I wasn’t going to write about that last one at all because it is so dark and because I’ve been trying to edge my way into some warmer material. Something like maybe Studio Ghibli might do. But then there was an old lady in a house dress standing on the curb at the ER and she had a walker and she said, “Don’t worry, your friend has already transferred to another body,” and I thought, Well, this seems a lot like something I’d write about in my blog, and you just can’t pass up good blog material when the Universe smiles on you like that.

I’ll get back to Gabble, Rabble, and Ross soon enough.

Sometimes I walk all day because it gets my mind off of dark thoughts and writing, and yesterday, I decided to walk to Mom and Dad’s house. Nineteen-plus miles away. It was working, too, but then it got to be something like 98 degrees out and started storming and at some point, the thought occurred to me that maybe sitting in my room writing about death wasn’t so bad after all.  

I got to about three miles away from Mom and Dad’s, though. That’s pretty good.  

I called up Mom and I said, “You know how sometimes a cat will climb a tree and then not be able to get back down?”

Mom said, “Oh God, Harry! You’re stuck in a tree?!”

I admit it makes me a little sad to know that Mom believes her forty-something year old son might be the sort of man who goes off and gets himself stuck in a tree. I bet it made her a little sad, too.

“It’s just an analogy, Mom!” I said. I broke the good news that I wasn’t stuck in a tree at all but instead, was merely standing in a thunderstorm on Antoine, sixteen miles from home and needing a ride to somewhere – anywhere – that might offer a little more in the way of coolness and dryness.

She got to me so quickly that I half-wondered if she hadn’t been following me around the whole time. Maybe to keep me out of trees. She brought dry towels and the first thing she said to me was “What’d they end up deciding to do with your friend who died last week?” which really closed the circle on what had set me off on this road to begin with.

The words don’t come and when they do come they’re dark and it probably means I need to take a break from writing. Probably from other stuff, too. But something like that’s never stopped me before. 

I’ll be seeing you soon.

Comments

  1. I'm here if you need to talk. I just lost someone, too.

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    1. I saw that, cal. That's awful.

      I wasn't exactly close to this person. All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

      Delete
  2. When all there is but dark, write about dark until the sun starts to shine again. The sun WILL start to shine again. It always does.

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    1. That's probably the way to go. It's hard to make dark writing really pop, though. I'm going to keep working on it. My "break" will likely be of a short duration that few will even notice.

      Delete
  3. Everyone needs to refill the well from time to time. I've always found that a good way to do that is to go new places, do new things, meet some new people. You don't have to leave the city, just try out a new restaurant or go to a new store or museum or something. And keep working your program! See you when your writing urge has returned!

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    1. Thanks, Debra. I definitely need to break my routine. Doing something new could result in... something new.

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  4. Being stuck in a tree in a thunderstorm isn't the safest thing to be so I can understand your mum's anxiety.

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    1. It doesn't get really bad with her until she is able to start searching symptoms on WebMD. She doesn't have to know I'm sitting in trees in storms holding a huge metal rod.

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    2. If we read enough WebMd and Dr. Google it can put us all in a panic.

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    3. No one over the age of 40 should be allowed to use search engines for medical stuff. That includes me. They could install some sort of thing online like they have to keep kids off porn sites, except make sure it works, unlike the things keeping kids off porn sites.

      Delete
  5. You wrote about taking a break rather than just taking a break? Seems like a cheat. Hopefully the darkness lifts soon.

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    1. It's definitely a cheat. Over the years, I've written more than a few posts about writer's block and writing breaks. I have zero shame.

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  6. Enjoy your time away. Recharge. Relax. Come back better and stronger than ever, like that badass Austrian bodybuilding robot from the future that has a phrase about coming back.

    Believe it or not, I know exactly how you feel. Recently I was working on a novel - really cool idea, too - but it was very dark. Very personal. It hit close to home for all of the wrong reasons, and it put me in a dark, depressed mood. I was angry, and bitter, and cynical... not a great recipe for someone with depression. So I had to scrap it. It was hard, but 100% worth it. I started something more light-hearted, and my mood has infinitely improved.

    The words will be there when you return, and hopefully those words will be a little brighter than the words currently coming to you.

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    1. I might do that. I might simply NOT spend time planning anything to write over the next couple of weeks.

      Because I know you're right - it's tough to push past getting bogged down in writing by spending more time on the same thing.

      Delete
  7. I don't know why, but somehow this post reminded me of some Bruce Cockburn lyrics:

    When you're lovers in a dangerous time
    Sometimes you're made to feel as if your love's a crime
    But nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight
    Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight

    Maybe everything makes me think of song lyrics, and while I'm sure that can be annoying at times, it has been working for me for so long that I don't really think about it much.
    Anyway, I hope your intermission works better than mine has. It's been way too long since my Les Paul has been out of its case, and I don't even have calluses on my fingertips any more.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. "Got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight" is a great lyric. The only thing I know about Bruce Cockburn is that he looks a lot like Adam Clayton from U2. Oh, and he has a song called "Pacing the Cage."

      I've been getting my guitar out again from time to time, for the first time in years. I'm never going to be a good guitarist. But I'm consistently surprised by how many songs one can write using only a handful of chords.

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  8. You needed to get under a tree, not up in one, but at least mom got the chance to save her kitten.

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    1. The good thing is that I don't have any kids, so when I do need something, I can always tell my parents, "This is sort of a favor in place of not having to ever babysit." Which, I guess in a way, it is babysitting, but just not for grandkids.

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  9. When the words come and they turn out to be dark, that's okay. Some things need to get out, lest they fester and rot and tear into everything around them.

    As a lawyer, especially, you must come close to dark situations with some frequency. That isn't yours. Not always it isn't. But it still gets to you, because you stand close. Too close, perhaps, but someone has to do it. I like to think being near and around such things can give you some context and a better understanding, to help you prepare. But I also wouldn't be surprised if the details you can see from up closer make things look way different.

    Spill if you feel like it. Publish only if you want to. Outlets of all kinds are important to have and maintain. Don't plug up.

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    1. Thanks, Fang. I think maybe I stayed out of the dark with Nasreen because I wrote such short bits about very specific things, and maybe I need to go back to that style for a while.

      Realistically, though, I know I'm going to get some harebrained idea by Friday and end up writing it regardless.

      Delete
  10. Been down a similar path and came close to giving up on writing a couple of times. Take care!

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    1. Thanks. I doubt I'm going to quit. But it might take a slightly different form at some point.

      There's nothing wrong with changing interests or focus during life, I know.

      Delete
  11. Personally, I don't really mind if your writing turns dark. I might mention it as a casual observation, but I'll still keep reading. But if you need a break, then you should take a break. Lord knows I've done it.

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    1. Thanks, Alice. I'm going to take this weekend off, at least, and see what happens next week. I really never know what is going to happen until it's already happened, though!

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    2. I know the feeling. I often have no idea what I'm going to write in Suzie's House until right before I'm supposed to post it, After all these years of writing it, I've learned to just let it flow and hope for the best.

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  12. Try something new Harry! Go somewhere you haven't been before. When it's time to come back, we will be here for you!!

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    1. I haven't been out of Texas for a couple years, and haven't even been out of the greater Houston area this year. It's time. I need to recharge.

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  13. I'm probably the worse person to listen to when you are trying to walk away from writing dark. Because, well... you know how I adore my dark bits. I would really love to read the story of body replacements. And I'm sure at least one 40-year-old gets stuck on a tree every now and again. Some cats live long, long, long lives... I'm sure.

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    1. I've been giving it some thought this week, and maybe my best style is to relate really dark stuff in a light-hearted manner. When I start telling dark stories in dark tones, I start to wonder why anyone would want to spend their free time reading stuff that makes them miserable.

      But I'm going to see what happens next week, when I start writing again.

      It's all going to be okay.

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    2. Harry, I know what you mean. Even apart from writing – if I don't leaven my dark times with a little humor, I get annoyed and bored with myself. A friend once said, of my father and I both, that "the harder the times, the higher the irony levels get."

      Survival mechanism, I guess.

      Delete
    3. Gallows humor.

      It's probably a must for some jobs and some lives!

      Delete
  14. Completely unrelated to this post, so feel free to not publish, but slightly related to your recent comment: mad props on still keeping smartphones out of your life.
    I don't know why I succumbed. I guess the tech is cool, I guess "the people" are "on there". Ultimately, it's not worth it. The "look at your phone to avoid social interaction" thing? It just creeps on you, you suddenly do it, and then you do it more often. It warps you into what past you can only perceive as a malformed husk of itself. I don't actually use my phone for any non-phone things other than music, messaging on the Platform Of The Months, and maybe web or email on rare occasions. It's weird, I can't imagine going back, or even wanting to go back, but part of me maybe wants to?
    You've been warned. (;

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    1. That's actually an amazing admission by you, Fang, especially in light of the fact that you're in that generation that has basically alweays had smart phones around.

      I would really only need a smart phone for two things: 1) My current phone can't receive group texts, which gets complicated at work, and 2) Apple is discontinuing its ipods and I love running while listening to music.

      If it wasn't for that, I'd continue my current set-up forever.

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  15. I hope you have a good break and come back to writing with all your creative well refilled. All the best!

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    1. Thanks so much, Romance Reader. I'm working on it.

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