Sometime last year I went to a writing workshop at Faber Academy with novelist Carrie Tiffany. The title was Fiction Mining, and it was all about taking inspiration from your experiences to perform a sort of alchemy within your writing. But the lesson I learnt most was through an offhand comment she made, about the process of essentially doing nothing after a book is done.
The suggestion was to take time off to visit galleries or go on walks, listen to music. To read and recharge the batteries for a good few months, at least. I realised I’d never actually done this. I’ve always been so worried about being without another project to keep me busy, I don’t actually stop and chill for a bit, or really savour each small success.
I feel so uncomfortable in limbo. Even if you love what you do, being in the middle of something’s all about the daily grind and the importance of simply getting it done – whether that’s a creative project or otherwise. But limbo does give you energy to keep going, and puts things in perspective. It’s also a time of possibility.
Lately I’ve been forced to rest. I’ve started taking pleasure in long walks around the bay and just stretching. Towards the end of last year I was punishing my body with exercise as a way of counteracting the work of sitting at a computer all day long. All go go go, then stop & atrophy.
The other day I sped over to the bay to do my relaxing walk(!), ready to listen to music to make me walk faster and beat my time from the day before. Then I realised I’d misplaced my headphones. I almost went home, but didn’t. And that was the first time in years I found myself alone, without stimulation, simply walking and breathing.
I slowed down. I listened. I watched some clouds drift by, and didn’t let myself think about anything too much. It felt good.