This is just to say I’m still alive.

by Shannon

It’s been more than a month. I don’t have a picture, and I don’t have much to say.

For the entire month of February, writing-wise, I got absolutely nothing done. This was semi-intentional. I sort of fell into it, realized it, and then decided to take the month off entirely. I had reached a point where I had been thinking about ‘Molly Worthington’ 24/7 for about four months. It was all I talked about, all I thought about. Heck, I dreamed about it. I needed to get away. I was so close that I couldn’t even see it clearly, let alone make actual decisions or maintain my focus. It was a break I desperately needed. Melissa said, “sometimes you just need a break from the written word,” and it felt true, though I don’t know if anyone who writes seriously would ever abandon it entirely for that long.

I’m sort of back, though trying to find my rhythm has been difficult. Writing on the computer hasn’t worked. I’ve pretty much been doing three page chicken scratch sprints during break at my current assignment, just to get back into the right head space. I don’t know when I became a longhand writer, but you wouldn’t believe it even if you see it. I have this ongoing battle with personal shame when it comes to writing. I have written about it before, about how I want to be a Real Writer and can never decide if just doing it is enough to call myself one, or if getting published, or just finishing something at all, or if it’s not something you decide on your own at all. An extension of this is that I won’t let anyone read any of my original work if I’m not finished with it. As a result, you’d think that my notebook was written by a blind three year old who had vaguely heard about what Arabic looked like. All that matters is that I know what it says, and if it’s nearly illegible, people can’t read over my shoulder or pick it up and get anything out of it.

One positive development my hiatus gave me: confidence in my works in progress, abysmal as they currently are. In years past, a whole month of not looking at it would have driven the spirit of it right out of me, and for the first time, I still love them. I still love the crew of the Adventure, and my teenage runaways in The Asphalt Messiah, and I still want to finish them. I’ve been letting myself over-write and do it horribly and gracelessly, but the fact that I still want it gives me hope that when all is said and done, the final drafts might not be.

I have no business publishing as I am now, and I’ve made my peace with that, but what is new and different and exciting is how sure I am that I want eventually to share it, to help others love them as much as I do.

Anyway, the only other thing of note happened this weekend. My friend came to visit for the first time in ages. We saw The Black Keys and The Arctic Monkeys from absurdly close up. We ate way too much food, got too little sleep, walked more than I have in possibly my whole life, and explored Old City and Reading Terminal with friends that were new and old to each of us. Now I can look forward to another weekend of The Hunger Games and Indian food and long, quiet drives.

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