Scores of writers have turned and walked away from their craft; sometimes for years on end. When they do return from their multi-year absence, their voice, their style, their subject matter is altogether transformed and most certainly enlightened by days spent doing something else in the world. The period of time between novels can stretch as long as a decade during these wilderness years. Where do writers go and why do they leave?
The catalyst that sparks an exit from the writing life is as unique and individual as there are books on a shelf. That which is universal about this turn of events, is the growth that a writer walks through during this period of silence. Don’t believe for a moment that they’ve stopped thinking about writing, nothing could be further from the truth. The writer who goes missing, sees no other alternative, but to quietly slip away. Dare I say, the demons are knocking at their door and so they must retreat for awhile and stare down into the abyss.
While it may not be as medieval as all that, this disappearance is a response to an acknowledgement that one must contend with one’s inner turmoil before it destroys one’s gift altogether.
A cascade of events usually precipitate these departures, at least that was my experience. There was an 8-year span between my own novels. Looking back, I realize that I had no choice, but to turn away and permit dust to build up on my Thesaurus. Writing that first novel was a tremendous opportunity to learn and grow and move beyond imagined barriers. Although I ventured one third of the way into writing the sequel, I found myself unable to continue.
Those events I mentioned earlier included a financial dead-end with an unscrupulous book producer, followed by a cross country court appearance that eventually morphed into disappointment. I was unable to effectively turn the situation around on a spiritual level because I lacked the tools to facilitate this next step. As a result, I became seriously stuck not only in my writing, but in living as a whole. A life lesson beckoned and I chose to ride that wave.
From the quiet solitude of the writer’s life, I crossed over into the loud, chaotic and quickly moving world of politics. I worked my way up through the ranks and ended up managing the Get Out The Vote (GOTV) component on congressional campaigns. In addition, I traveled to conduct workshops on the ground game mechanics of political campaigns. I learned what I needed to learn from this era in my life, but eventually took leave altogether of that industry. Politics, being starkly devoid of sacred honor these days, is as destructive as it is deceitful.
Although we won, I disengaged from on-the-ground action after my last ‘Election Day’. My life resumed a quieter pace, once free from the toxic environment of politics, but I was still unable to write. It was then that I realized that while I had garnered experience and self knowledge from working in the political world, I was now following a new path of distraction and it continued to steal my focus away from that which is authentic and true.
Pain became a motivating factor, as well as a frequent visitor and that was impossible to ignore. It seemed that just as I had bushwhacked my way through one gnarled, dense forest and into the clearing, the path continued through an even darker and more tangled thicket. I had no choice but to shear away all the unnecessary, distracting and hurtful delusions that plagued my day, shut down my creativity and held me at a standstill. It was time to roll up my sleeves and confront my blind spots.
I began a journey that continues into the present day. I had some messes to clean up, an interior overhaul to execute and a ton of reality to face, head on. I invested in self improvement books, CDs and seminars. I sat down and looked at every part of my life, from my financial health to my eating style, as well as my physical, spiritual and emotional well-being. As long as I stayed where I was, I would continue to be distracted from my destiny and so instead of stagnating, I took action. I came up with a plan.
I joined a Pilates studio with the goal of becoming ultra fit. I also started hiking. Taking myself to the mountain was most likely a result of all that bushwhacking through the brush of my interior life. A year later, I was able to summit Mt. Baldy at an elevation of 10,064 feet. I took responsibility for my nutrition and performed a purge of refined, chemical-laced garbage that masquerades as food. I cleaned up my financial life and invested daily in my spiritual and emotional growth. As a result of clearing the debris out of my life, the creative spark returned with a pent up vengeance and in a matter of months, I was able to finish the second novel and begin an education in the sphere of book promotion.
None of this happened overnight. Instead, I invested daily in my own, overall health. I made small, regular deposits in every wounded area of my life which in turn, accrued with value over time. I began to feel, look and think in a way that was not only different and positive, but also more peaceful and honest.
I realized somewhere along the way, that being stuck doesn’t just happen to writers. The lessons I learned can be applied across a veritable spectrum of unrealized dreams. Walking away from one’s destiny and settling for the comfort of mediocrity or the fantasy world of distraction is universal in its experience.
This is not an easy path and you should know up front, that distraction is no longer an option. If however, you decide to once and for all, take serious strides to recreate your life and turn it into the existence that you’ve longed for and actually deserve, you’ll exceed your own expectations, blow past your limitations and start climbing towards an unremitting level of creative empowerment that will take you to the summit and beyond.
Bridget’s writing career as a newspaper columnist, a web-site contributor, content writer and French language translator has found new expression as a novelist. Whispers on the Wind, Bridget’s debut novel was the first installment in the Celtic Heart historical fiction series that continues with A Woman’s Equal Share. View more inspirational articles and motivational videos at Bridget’s web-site: https://www.desertrosebooks.com
Paperbacks in the Celtic Heart Historical Fiction Series are available exclusively, here at Desert Rose Books. Visit the Bookstore.
The E-book version of 'A Woman's Equal Share' is available on all the major e-book platforms. Click here to visit the Amazon page.
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