Two years into my three-year graduate program, I burned out.  Last May I could hardly bear to open the cover of a book, much less read one.  Not only was that distressing as a writer, but because reading is my favorite hobby, I found myself without my usual source of sustenance and comfort.  But I went with the flow.  Instead of reading, I focused on swimming (another favorite hobby), took up pilates, injected some new life into my personal style, and enjoyed spending time outside in my garden.

In June, I picked up Colm Tóibín’s The Master and started to very slowly make my way through his gorgeous prose.  I often read books quickly — sometimes in one sitting.  I did that with Tóibín’s Brooklyn the previous January.  But I’m grateful that I took my time with The Master, savoring the exquisite, intricate effects of each paragraph.  

At times in graduate school, I felt reduced to my academic output.  Last May’s leave of absence from the written word allowed me to be a fuller person.  So important in writing.  Then in June The Master guided me back to reading.

By letting go for a little while, I was able to circle home.

One Thing

Now that I’ve finished my degree, I’m feeling really motivated to complete my book manuscript.  I have two new stories in the works.  For me the writing process starts with a lot of thinking.  And a lot of research.

I actually really enjoy this stage of writing.  And what better place to do research than the back deck on a sunny afternoon?

{Learn more about my “One Thing” posts here.}

A few words…

I love these words from Ira Glass, the host of This American Life:

Even now it sometimes takes me a little while to get my footing when I start a new project.  Ira’s insights are a good reminder that this is a common experience among artists.  And a good inspiration to keep on.

{Words and audio are from Ira Glass on Current TV.  The video’s animation is by David Shiyang Liu and can be found here.}