This month I fell in love. With Words. Again.
In some ways it took forever. In others it seemed to happen all at once. It also wasn't the first time I fell for Words. Still, it might be the hardest I've fallen, both in terms of the journey and how deeply it happened.
As some readers may have guessed, and others know from more private interactions, Words and I have had a rough couple of years. Most relationships go through highs and lows, and it was no different for us. It started as a reading slump. That moved into writer's block. What transformed into self doubt and fear radically changed into something so terrifying in myself that I wasn't sure I'd ever come back.
True story: About a month ago, I thought it was highly possible that Words and I might be headed for a divorce.
Then it happened. Not like diving head first into a pool, but more likely dipping a toe in the water and wading into a lake.
After being in a multi-year reading slump, I started this year determined to read at least 50 books. It didn't matter if they were new-to-me reads or re-reads, I just wanted to read at least one book every week. I started out slowly. I even stopped for a while in February after losing a close family member. In those first weeks of grief and depression, nothing I read or wrote had any life to it. But then I pushed myself to fulfill a few reading obligations, and slowly but surely I found myself enjoying stories. I still wasn't sure if I'd ever have my own Words to write again, but at least I was losing myself in books.
It seemed like it had been forever since I was lost in a book--either my own or someone else's.
That must be how I found myself reaching for a series I'd read and loved seven years ago. I picked up the first book, and I was quickly transported. Not just into the story, but into who and where I was mentally and emotionally seven years ago.
Seven years ago I was in a job I didn't like, but I'd found a way to make most days a little fun. That usually included organizing an office Olympics pool or bringing in treats from my latest baking experiments. (I was just learning to be daring in the kitchen at that time.) I read two or three books a week. I wrote every day--often for this blog. I'd finished writing my first two books, and I was just looking into querying. I was very much in transition, but there was one thing that was absolutely true: I loved Words with every fiber of my being.
Reminded of our better days, I continued to read the series. I also decided somewhat impulsively to take off a week from my current day job with a goal of seeing if I couldn't make something happen with Words.
On the Sunday of that week, I opened up one of my unfinished projects and made a list of all the scenes I needed to write. I set a timer and I wrote. After a few writing sprints, I ended the day with about 1,000 words. That's nothing compared to the words I used to produce back in my prime, but still, it was a healthy start. I started again the next day and came up with an even better showing. By then, I could see the end in sight for that novella. I woke up Wednesday, and for the first time in a few years, I felt excited to open up a blank page and fill it with Words. So I did. I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. It wasn't always fun. It was never easy. But the Words came. And every time I finished a scene or a chapter, I overflowed with pride and excitement in what I was doing.
By the end of Tuesday, I'd set a new personal best for most words written in a day. I'd also finished that particularly story. I celebrated with a small bottle of champagne I'd bought myself as a prize.
On Wednesday, I opened up another story from the to-finish pile, and I realized I had even less to do on that than I'd originally thought. So I plugged away and by mid-afternoon on Thursday, I'd once again finished.
I've written somewhat intermittently since then, pausing to do some edits and to brainstorm and develop a few other stories. But the Words are always on my mind. Not as a looming reminder of something that was once great, but now eludes me. Now, they're on my mind as something that gives me excitement in waking and dreaming every day. The value comes from what I'm reading or writing, not in worrying what others might think about what I'm reading or writing. It's about doing the best I can while I can.
In a lot of ways I feel like I'm on a honeymoon again with words. It isn't always perfect. Sometimes it rains on the day we're supposed to go on an excursion. But they're a good part of my life again. And this time, I'm trying not to take them or this good time we're having together for granted.