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What I Learned about Writing This Week…from Taking a Shower

Huzzah, calloo, and callay! I’m back among the living and normally functioning! Well, mostly normally, anyway. I still get tired too easily, and my arms and legs retain that not-quite-attached feeling that the flu so eagerly bequeaths its victims… But all things considered, I’m well on my way back to health and more than ready to plunge into the writing life once more.

The day after the flu hit was also the day before a delirium of sorts hit. While languishing within that short window of time (before I knew what languishing really was; I was to learn better posthaste), I started penning my WILAWriTWe article for last week. But then fever went up, brain cells quit functioning, and I sank into a gunkified muddle from which I wouldn’t emerge until five days later.

But that’s all over now, dearest readers, and so I’ve unearthed that half-finished article from where it was buried beneath an exponentially growing pile of used tissues. (Yum!) I’ve dug it up and out and finished it, and now I’m going to share it with you. I even disinfected it for you, so you don’t have to be afraid to touch it. See, my darlings, how much I love you?

So. Without further ado or adon’t, here’s your WILAWriTWe for this week. Which was really for last week. Except that it’s not.

I never claimed to be coherent, gunkified or no.

A WILAWriTWe From The Edge of Delirium

December 26, 2010

I’ve been down with the flu since the day after Christmas.

I’ll spare you, dear inklings, the horrid details; suffice it to say that there’s achiness and gunkiness and overall frustratedness at having neither the necessary brainpower nor the requisite energy for doing anything I want to do. There’s a novel and there’s a painting calling my name, and I don’t have it what it takes to tackle either. Just typing this post is going to make me want to take a nap, which is just stupid.

Tonight, I finally got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Cost me what it might, I was determined to get up and take a shower, zounds and egad! So I did. Afterward, I ended up huddling miserably into my couch cushions once more — but at least I huddled with the satisfaction of having accomplished something. And I huddled clean, thag you bery buch*!

And that’s when it hit me: Sometimes, a writer’s just gotta get clean. We get stuck in writing ruts. Our batteries run down. We lose track of the brilliant flashes of inspiration that light up an instant within our minds…and then blink out again like fireflies. We roll merrily along without a writerly care in the world, scribbling like mad things, and then bam! There’s that Great Ginormous Wall of Something that stops us again and again.

Sometimes, fellow writers, what we need is a shower.

Sometimes, we need something that will cleanse our minds, hearts, and souls. Sometimes, we need something that will strip the dirt from us: the dirt of the rut, the corrosion on the batteries. We must scrub away the roughness we’ve built up from being buried in our work for too long. We must rub away the calluses. We need to immerse ourselves in life once more. We need to wash, rinse, repeat until we are pure again.

That purifying something will look different for each one of us. For some of us, it’s a refreshing stroll someplace pretty. For some, it’s a couple of hours at the gym, pummeling the heck out of a punching bag. It could be an evening of your favorite music and a glass or two of wine. An afternoon at a coffee shop, philosophizing with friends over latte and hot chocolate. A session of Rockband with people you can get crazy with. A good book. A pedicure. A manicure. A photowalk. A chocolate cake. Yes, a whole chocolate cake, and torte the health-guru naysayers!

You know what it is, writers. You know what does it for you. You know what those things are that leave you feeling whole, sane, rejuvenated, refreshed. You know what it is that makes you feel clean, like you can face the world and hold your head high. Maybe it’s that thing you don’t let yourself indulge in very often. Maybe you think letting yourself indulge will sully it somehow. Cheapen it. Lessen its potency.

Or maybe you think you don’t really deserve it.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you need it. And I know you know you need it. And I’m also here to tell you that you deserve it. Because if you’re creating, then you’re fulfilling the purpose for which you were designed. And you deserve the things that make your creations possible. You deserve cleansing, dear writers — and it’s imperative that you get it.

So, think about it: What are the things that cleanse you — heart, mind, body, and soul? Share it with us in the comments. We need to hear it from you. We all need to hear it from each other.

And that’s WILAWriTWe.

*That’s “thank you very much” in Snifflese.

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