Monday, 16 December 2013
Trying to Find the White Space
"Are you going to have a break from writing this Christmas?"
Tracy and I are sharing a coffee and a teacake in our local café.
"I don't know. I haven't really thought about it." I say.
I actually haven't, and if I'm honest, the mere idea of not producing any writing for a couple of weeks sends me into a panic.
"If you were in a different job, you'd have time off, though, wouldn't you?" Tracy says wisely.
It makes me think.
If I'm perfectly honest, my reaction to her suggestion has shocked me - after all, I have set my own weekly goals, no one else has. Maybe I should ask myself for permission to have a proper break.
Once I make the decision to wind down a bit, I feel quite excited at the prospect. I think of all the things I can do: see my grandsons in their Christmas plays, last minute shopping, zumba classes without wondering if I could use the Columbian instructor as a male lead character, walks with Bonnie without the need to rush home to get a story finished. The fact that I make myself write two stories and an article that week, to feel I deserve my non-writing time, I can live with.
So far so good.Then comes the tricky part - turning off the ideas part of my brain. Of course, to see potential stories in everything you do is a blessing but when you have decided you want 'time out', it is nothing but an irritation. In her article in Writing Magazine on planning for 2014, Margaret James quoted novelists Rachel Louise Dove and Phillipa Ashley as saying that in order not to neglect our family and friends (not just at this time of year) we should all 'Try to let some white space into our lives'. What a lovely peaceful image - white space... if only my active brain will allow me to find some.
In her blog post this week, Sally Jenkins says that she finds it difficult to read a book without looking at it through the eyes of a writer. I am starting to find the same with everything I do.
In reply to her post, I commented that when I was an education officer at a nature reserve it took me two years after leaving my job to be able to go on a walk and enjoy it for what it was (rather than trying to analyse every animal track or identify every wild flower). Happily, the part of my brain that was locked into work mode, whenever I was in the countryside, eventually gave up and now I barely give a flower a second glance except to think, 'That's pretty."
... If only I could do the same now I am a writer.
Any tips on how to enjoy my two weeks of 'white space' will be gratefully received.