When the Times Go A-Changing

Noticeable absences, lifetime landmarks, and forging onward into the new year.
By Elizabeth Cutright

I haven’t been around much lately.  My muse has been given a much-needed rest and after days lingering along the shoreline, hoping for some sort of divine intervention, I find myself heading into 2014 with an almost completely different daily grind.

As you may have surmised from some of my previous entries, my life hit a sort of creative breaking point this autumn.  Before I knew it, I’d smashed my idols, thrown bushels full of assumptions onto the bonfire, and high-tailed outta there like the proverbial hell-town bat. This was not a planned intervention, but in the aftermath, it seems nothing short of inevitable.

Sometimes the string snaps, the camel breaks a back, and that last straw hits the ground with the force of a nuclear bomb.

With my past irradiated, I strapped up the boots, pulled out the map, and started trying to chart an escape route.  But I was not the vision of the intrepid explored, dashing in khakis and confidently astride the aforementioned camel.  I was more like R2D2 and C3PO, shuffling in a daze across an unfamiliar desert landscape, waiting for some Skywalker to show me the way.

Time is a funny thing, particularly for writers.  Most of us always feel that our novels and best sellers and multimillion-dollar screenplays are only one sabbatical away from actuation.

“If I only had a large swathe of time,” we lament, “I could finally write that book!”

I don’t want to thrust coal into anyone’s stocking this close to Christmas, but let me tell you – time is not all it’s cracked up to be.  The thing about time is, it keeps just rushing past…Second-by-second.  It cannot not be stopped or halted.  It can feel relative at times, but even when a minute stretches to oblivion and an hour passes in the blink of an eye, you are nevertheless always moving forward…each minute a step away from some unfulfilled dream.

Though I found myself with an overabundance of time – or, rather, a schedule that was no longer shackled to the (seemingly arbitrary) workers clock that had dominated so many of my weekdays – I found I could not write.  Sure, I made the daily pilgrimage to the morning pages, but otherwise, the paper stayed blank, the Word document unblemished.  I wish I could tell you I tried my tools and tricks – the ones I consistently champion in this very blog – but that would be a lie.
Instead, I worried.  And plotted.  And revisited past mistakes.  And picked at every bruise and wound, always checking for new scars and new lacerations… all while secretly whispering, “you need to get a grip.”

Ultimately, thanks in large part to a support group who’s buoyancy I will never again underestimate, I bushwhacked and “Legionnaire-d” my way out of the desert and back into the world.

But not just any world…  Instead, I’ve gone through a sort of sandblasting…A high-temperature gilding… A bronzing and a bleaching … a sanding-down and smoothing out.  The feeling is akin to standing at the edge of an ocean cliff and letting the storm-winds wash over you, confident your future is as boundless as the horizon in front of you, and that your foundation is as strong the granite and sandstone beneath your feet.

It’s a bit of a phoenix rising moment, not to put too fine a point on it (though I acknowledge I’m being more than a bit melodramatic).  Emerging on the other side of this long tunnel of doubt, I’ve found myself living a more creative life – learning new things every day and merging old life lessons with new insights.

And though I may not have used my time off to craft the great American novel, I think I did find a way to craft myself the beginnings of a more personal, more fulfilling narrative.

So stay tuned, the Daily Creative Writer has just embarked on an entirely new adventure!

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