A change is as good as a rest!
Last week, during my residency at the Weymouth Center, I finished two big writing projects, projects I’ve been working on for the better part of a decade. For the first time in nearly ten years, I have no work-in-progress, no draft to revisit and refine, no overarching theme keeping me up at night. This means I’ve been thinking about what I’ll write next, and here’s the thing: I have no idea.
Once, this would have caused a panicked, teeth-gnashing, existential crisis. What if I never have a good idea again? Or, even worse, what if all the good ideas are taken by people far more talented than me? I’m not currently writing - can I even call myself a writer? WHO AM I, AND WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS LIFE?
David Gessner, one of my favorite writing professors, used to share a quote in class. “A change is as good as rest.” I love this quote perhaps a bit too much, and apply it willfully to all parts of my life. Need a break from the novel? Pick up your short story collection. Need a break from your stories? Try some flash fiction. Long week at work? Relax by rearranging your entire kitchen and alphabetizing your bookshelf. Rest does not come naturally to me, but change is like a second skin. I wear it without considering the consequences.
But sometimes you need a rest. Kara Cutruzzula, author of the excellent newsletter Brass Ring Daily, recently wrote about finishing things as well. (Tis the season, I guess!) She likened the experience . After you finish a big meal, you need a minute to digest before you can even think about eating something else. Even as a devout vegetarian, I see where she's coming from.
Which brings me back to my existential crisis, and how, for the first time, I’m not really having one! I may not know what my next writing project will be, but I trust it will reveal itself eventually. Not because I believe in magical muses or the law of attraction or any of that other woo woo stuff, but because I find the world an endlessly interesting place, full of stories and characters and ideas. As long as I stay open to the possibilities around me, read widely and remain curious and listen closely, one of those stories will root and take hold. It’ll crawl into bed with me at night, it’ll be there when I wake in the morning. One day I’ll sit at my desk, rested and hungry. I'll start writing, and we’ll both sigh with relief. Me, for finding a story to tell. The story, for finding someone to tell it. 💛
Extremely Relatable Links
You Accomplished Something Great. Now What? New York Times. Spoiler alert: accomplishing a goal won't always make you happy. Sometimes it will depress you! I like this article's suggestions at the end - to have a full life, focus on relationships, and set goals inside and outside of work. 🎯
It's Okay to Be Good and Not Great, Outside Online. "Research shows that sustainable progress, in everything from diet to fitness to creativity, isn’t about being consistently great; it’s about being great at being consistent. It’s about being good enough over and over again." 🤷♀️
This Twitter thread by Caitlin Kunkel about how to get your creative groove back after a hiatus is so good. 💫
🌭 Snack of the Week 🌭
Yesterday my Democratic precinct hosted our annual potluck picnic at a nearby park. Who puts a vegetarian in charge of a grill? Democrats, apparently. The good news is that I did not give anyone food poisoning, and I was reminded that hot dogs (IE veggie dogs!) are only good on a hot summer day when eaten straight off a grill and accompanied by the freshest, sweetest watermelon. All in all, a pretty good afternoon.
A Tiny Challenge
Let's all take a break this week. Sit and stare at the sunrise or the stars, drink a leisurely cup of coffee and leave the laundry unfolded, and find a moment or two to let your mind wander. Not because you're waiting for a big idea or a jolt of creativity, but because rest is important, too.
See you next Sunday! 💌