I blogged about my Ebb and Flow writing process in 2009.
In 2011 I experienced the ebb and flow of writing in a different way, with extended family health dramas taking all head and heart space for 6months. When I first heard the word ‘cancer’ I resolved to let my writing go, for unlimited time, to invest in family and fighting this dread disease. There would be no stress on my part if there was no time for writing or submitting. In fact, any writing would be a bonus.
October was a major turning point, with a dramatic increase in tension following a complicated medical procedure, slowly falling away to relief… and hope. Doctors were confident of a cure, and mid November we began mending bodies, hearts, and minds raw with emotions and prolonged stress.
On the day our loved one was released from hospital, the words that had been locked away, flowed onto paper – a tribute poem to the medical staff who healed with hands and hearts. Though the last week in hospital had seen continual milestones on the road to recovery, it was that moment of release that triggered the words I hadn’t even realised were locked away.
For another three weeks we quietly relished relief of healing and hope, while juggling the busy life of two lads and their many and varied activities. No words. No headspace to compose them. Just healing time…
My week usually involves long drives along relatively quiet, country roads. On the times when I do these alone, I think. I appreciate the opportunity to ponder and pray, plot and plan. When life was stressful, my head was a mangled tangle of thoughts that clenched and bunched my brain. Even when I wasn’t consciously thinking, I was thinking. But as the stress was released, I was able to drive mindlessly, not thinking, not doing, just passing from A to B. Towards the end of November, I realized I was starting to roll words and ideas around in my head. Phrases and rhymes. Alliterations. On one particular drive, with lots of roadworks stops along the way, I penned an Aussie Christmas Carol – singing it into my memory until the next stop-&-go man gave me opportunity to write.
From that point on, I noticed that during drive-time, my creative mind came out to play. Characters appeared and cavorted around. Plots simmered potential. I longed for time to write and started rolling words around and around in my head so I didn’t forget them, jotting phrases and ideas into notebooks for later development. A number of picture books started to tell their tales…
With the release of school holidays, I started work on a picture book that got bogged down twelve months earlier. A PB that had a beginning. And a little bit of plot. But no real development. A PB that had been shelved in the bottom drawer of my computer long before the dreaded ‘c’ word touched our family. It was a rhyming picture book, requiring equal attention to rhythm, rhyme and story, and it had proved a complication to write! After the tumultuous year, I wondered if this tangled story was the wrong WIP to tackle… but it beckoned, I took a peek… and started to play.
It took a week to wrangle the words, but what an exciting week that was. Words tumbled around in my head, bouncing off ideas and moving my story along. Many times I thought the story was finished – only to write it better. Each tweak and edit tightening and polishing until every word earnt its place.
After six months of ebb, the words flowed into a jaunty rural rhyming story with a touch of drama, and quirky humour. A story that excites me. A story I’ve been waiting 3 years to write. (And written many others in the meantime.) A story I couldn’t write… that now flowed with relative ease.
So often we are told as writers that we should write every day. But in reality, writing is something we balance with life, and every day doesn’t necessarily have time in it for writing. Sometimes days go by. Weeks. Even months. But the words don’t disappear. Your focus shifts. The letters and words are consumed by life. But they aren’t gone. The passion doesn’t die!
The words will flow again. Crisper, clearer and sparkling with promise. Refreshed. There is beauty in the ebb and flow of writing.