Friday, November 11, 2011

Pining away

On taking a break

And, no, I don’t mean a break from my dissertation. That monolith of literature I’m still chugging along on my revisions. I’m trying desperately to get my adviser prescribed revisions done before the 19th so I can have plenty of time to handle whatever strangeness my advisor sends my way (and there will be strangeness—he’s waited until the night before giving talks at major conferences to give me some concept smashing data and asked me to “just stick it in”).

No, I mean a break from the writing that I love to do. My poor work in progress is sitting on my hard drive collecting electrons and looking back at me feebly every time I skip right over that folder to click on PhD.

And I’m scared. I’m worried that when I finally open that folder up again I won’t love it anymore. And I loved that story—I mean *loved* that story. Usually, I wouldn’t be able to stay away from something like that, but this dissertation thing has been years in the making. It must take priority… but now I don’t even remember some of the secondary character’s names. Some of the details are starting to fade. Who was I going to kill and why? What hints did I lay? What hints did I still have waiting in my tangled bucket of trouble? How did I plan to solve the big bad problem? Oh crap, what was the big bad problem?

Yeah, I have notes… Okay, not many, but that’s not what worries me. I’m afraid that by taking a break the spark that I had—the burning need to write that silly story—will have fled me. I worry that I’ll just be ho-hum by the time I get to the end of my dissertation, and I’ll never feel like I used to about my writing in waiting.

So what about all of you, have any of you ever set something aside? What happened when you got back to it? Did you still love it?


  1. I took me a bit, but I think I love it more now than I did before. Good luck on the dissertation.

  2. I have put several books down and picked them back up again (notably the book I am writing now, which I wrote about 30K on and then stopped for a year or so), and I managed to find the love again.

    One thing I like to do to make sure the love stays with me is make a list of all the things in the book that I love. It can be ANYTHING no matter how small or silly.

    So the list might look like: autumn leaves, vampires, fire magic, complicated relationships, a hostage situation, spunky cute girl, bad boy with a shady past...and so on. Since you LOVE this book so much, I am guessing there are LOTS of details that you like about it. Make a list of those details, and when you come back to the book, you'll refresh your memory of why you loved it in the first place.

    Also, a lot of times simply rereading what you've already wrote can rekindle the fire.

    Good luck with your dissertation!

  3. Thanks for all the luck on my dissertation everyone. I'm cranking away.

    @ Elizabeth: Yes, that's an excellent idea, and I should be keeping that list whether I'm taking a break or not.


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