When I finally sat down to work on one of my long-neglected manuscripts, I realized that I couldn't find one of my notebooks. Whenever I write the first draft of a story, I always write it longhand in a notebook and then type it on my laptop when I'm revising it. It had been so long since I'd written anything that I couldn't even remember where I'd put the notebook, which held several weeks' worth of writing and was the only copy.
I reacted the same way that Marion Crane did in that shower scene in Psycho, or the way that Kanye West and Kim Kardashian probably react when the cameras turn away from them. I frantically tore apart my apartment looking for it, and I worried that maybe I'd left it behind in a coffee shop a long time ago. I'd accidentally left my journal in a cafe a few years ago; when I went back to get it, the baristas returned it to me, but exchanged knowing looks and giggles.
Finally, I found it in the back of my small filing cabinet, underneath a stack of students' papers and printouts of scholarly articles for my research. If this were a movie, that would have been the moment when a choir would have sung "Hallelujah."
When I finally sat down to write, it felt like coming home. I felt soothed as I wrote, in a way that I hadn't felt in a long time. It was good to be in the company of my characters again and to step back into the world I created. They say that home is where your heart is, and my heart is in my writing, in a way that it isn't in the comments I write on students' papers or my notes for my academic research (but that may be because the latter often makes me react the same way that Marion Crane did when Norman Bates confronted her).
I'll never be the kind of person who writes every day, because that just isn't possible with my work schedule. I have to work more hours at my part-time job this year, due to the costs associated with my car troubles and my increased rent. I also have to save money for the next time I move, which might be at the end of the school year. Since I'd like to leave Small Town eventually and move on to another school, I have to apply for teaching jobs for next year (most of the deadlines are in the early fall), which is very time-consuming. So is my academic research, which might as well be placed in the category "Things That Make You Go ZZZZZZ".
But recently I found out that one of my former students self-published a book that she'd written. I did a Google search of some of my former grad school classmates, and I saw their impressive list of publications in fiction and creative nonfiction, as well as the awards they'd won for their writing. When I go to bookstores, I marvel at all the writers who somehow made the time to write regularly and put their work out there.
It made me feel guilty that all I have are unfinished manuscripts that I started years ago and a stack of rejection letters. But at the same time, those things motivated me to start writing again, especially so I can regain that peaceful, soothing feeling that I get whenever I put things down on paper.
What about you? Have you ever lost writing before? How did you deal with it? Have you ever had to take a hiatus from writing before?