I spent last week at a writers’ conference, because–as far as I’m concerned–I will never be done learning how to write. Then too, writing is a solitary undertaking. To spend time with my tribe was a great fun. We all got certain jokes, and we could all commiserate over the manuscript that won’t come right.
I learned tons, about prose and plot, and also about the writing process as mine compares to that of other authors. I learned about other genres–children’s and young adult, women’s fiction, and thrillers (why is there no such thing as men’s fiction?). I learned a few words of some publishing industry dialects I hadn’t heard before.
I also learned that I’m tired. Physically tired. Whooped. Whamped. In need of many naps.
This revelation came to me about Tuesday afternoon, after a day and a half of class. I was one of the most experienced writers in the room, and I was having trouble wrapping my head around what was presented. Worse, I was getting upset because it should have been making sense. I should have been able to integrate the material into my craft, I just didn’t get it…
I dismissed the theory that I was tired, because all we were doing was sitting and listening. The whole week was to be mostly refresher and review. I wasn’t under any pressure to pitch new projects to agents or editors–I was an intellectual TOURIST.
I decided to steal a cat nap on Tuesday, and crashed harder than I’ve crashed in years. As the week went on, I realized that what I probably needed was a vacation, not a mental workout. My body is tired, my mind is tired, my imagination is tired. I suspect this has to do with losing my mom in February and my lawyer job in March, and my dad receiving hospice care. I’m doing emotional work that saps my energy reserves in ways I don’t entirely grasp.
Foster kids often come into care without knowing when they’re hungry, thirsty, tired, or upset. They’ve been so focused on managing a challenging environment that they no longer self-monitor. The results aren’t pretty–tantrums, food hoarding, illness, injury, and trouble in school. We can become oblivious to our own internal states. If I hadn’t seen it over and over again in those foster children, I’d probably not believe we can be that cut off from our own reality.
In any case, I’d like permission to take a break from this blog, for at least the next few weeks. I have a lot of writing to do (I’m looking at you, Asher Fenwick), and I love to write. I always want to be ABLE to write in quantity and quality, and the blog–while great fun for me, and I hope for you–is one demand I can temporarily step back from.
How do you know you’re tired? Has fatigue ever taken you by surprise? To one commenter, I’ll send an audio book copy of The Soldier, a story about a guy who needed to reconnect with his own heart.