There are times when you simply don't know what to write. No topics come to mind, no words fall out easily onto the page or through your fingertips to the keyboard. You struggle and search in vain for ideas that do not come.
Then there are times like this past week, in which many ideas present themselves, but there isn't enough time to address them. Notes are scribbled on scraps of paper while driving at 80 miles an hour down a rural highway to man a tradeshow booth. Errant thoughts, worthy of further consideration, pass fleetingly without so much as a moment's pause as you sit through mandatory meetings. The hectic schedule of work and family and extracurricular activities leaves no time for the quiet reflection necessary for creative writing.
I've come to the conclusion I would prefer writer's block to the inability to write when the ideas are flowing.
Somewhere in the past 168 hours, I've lost at least four decent ideas for blog posts, two plot twists about which I seemed pretty excited when they came to mind for the murder mystery I'm writing, and most of the details for the conclusion of the short ghost story I work on when the murder mystery has me temporarily stymied.
And the notes that survived the week are so cryptic as to be almost useless. I don't know what I was thinking when I hastily jotted down the word "fencing" on a pad of paper next to me in the passenger seat of my little green car. Was I intending to write about sword fighting, split rails, or people who sell stolen goods? Did it relate to the blog, the book, or the short story? I'll never know.
What I do know: Despite being away from home and family for longer than I like, this week also brought many personal rewards only a fool would wish away in order to obtain the solitary confinement required for writing.
Did I spend two days away from home to attend a conference in Washington? Yes.
But I also was home the night my twin boys performed in their school musical program. The Italian sang his heart out and square-danced around the stage, and the German got to play the xylophone for an audience of hundreds. Even their big sister got into the act by serving as a volunteer handing out programs to families as they arrived.
Did I spend two days in a row manning tradeshow booths on military bases and repeating the same spiel over and over again to hundreds of people? Yes.
But I also made it to Fayetteville from Camp LeJeune last night in time to be one of 19 people cramming around a table at Red Robin (yum!), after which we all headed over to Crown Coliseum to meet even more friends for a FireAntz hockey game. The game was terrible -- the only fight saw one of our home team guys getting his butt kicked with no back up from his teammates -- but we laughed and yelled at the players and had a great time.
Did my Lovely Wife and I spend most of today making up for the demands on our time that kept us from our normal weekly routines? Yes.
But I got to spend a beautiful weekend with my best friend, our three amazing children, and a bevy of friends.
If the blog sits for a week without a new post, it isn't the end of the world. If the short story never gets finished, it's okay. If my book has to wait a few days, or even a few years, for me to get back to it, it's not a problem. I have the rest of my life to write. My life, on the other hand, won't wait for me.
© 2011 Mark Feggeler