First of all, before I do anything else:
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Thanks, Ari! But, uh…we’ve reached the Ides of January and you’re just now wishing us a happy new year?”
The answer to that question is a bit complicated, and I shan’t endeavor to explain it all. But the basic story can be broken down into three interconnected parts:
1. I’ve been at home on break. And what have I been doing, if not blogging? A brief list, in no particular order:
- spending time with friends and family
- holiday celebrations
- holiday cooking (just cooking in general, really–I miss having a kitchen when I’m at school)
- taking walks in the great outdoors (THE GREAT OUTDOORS ARE GREAT YOU GUYS)
- drinking tea
- reading books
And in order to do these things, I made a concerted effort to spend less time on the internet than I usually do. The success of this endeavor is questionable, but:
2. I’ve been writing and editing. Questionable degree of success here too. For several weeks (basically as soon as the holidays were over) I tried to dive back into editing UNFAMILIAR SPELLINGS. I cut some stuff, rewrote some stuff…and then hit a wall.
An awful wall.
The kind where you become convinced that everything you’re writing is crap.
The kind where you honestly can’t remember why you even liked this story in the first place.
The kind where you find yourself staring at your screen at 2 AM and moving punctuation around just so you can have the illusion of being productive. (I wish I were exaggerating.)
Needless to say, my actual output dwindled to nothing. I desperately wanted to go work on SHADESHOCK (my WWI novel) instead, but I’d promised myself I’d finish the US edits before I did, so I found myself in a depressing pit of doing nothing. Finally, in despair, I sent off a rambling, panicky email to my friend Marieke in the wee hours of the morning, an email that could essentially be summed up in the sentence, “WHAT DO I DO????” Her thoughtful response: “Well, what do you feel like you should be doing?”
It was what I needed to hear. Because I felt like I should be taking a break from writing, but I hadn’t been giving myself permission to do that, even though the angst and burnout clearly weren’t worth it. So that’s what I’m doing now. Granted, I’m in the midst of reading/critiquing a couple of manuscripts, so I’m not entirely out of the writing world, but I’m doing my best to take a break until I’ve got my feet under me and my head screwed on straight.
3. I’ve been obsessing about the First World War.
It’s a little embarrassing to admit, but this is a large part of the reason I haven’t been blogging. It’s not that the topic is somehow not conducive to writing (QUITE THE OPPOSITE). Rather, it’s that I’ve already subjected my friends and close family to my excited rambling, obsessive reading, and indignant outbursts—I’ve been hoping to spare my readers.But blogs are like journals, and journals are for honesty, so honestly? This what I think about 70% of the time that I’m not in class or talking to people or whatever. In the past month, I’ve acquired nearly a dozen books about WWI, many given to me quite unexpectedly by incredibly generous friends (who took me at my word when I joked about how I would not object to people giving me books about WWI—<3 you guys). I bought a book of WWI poetry at Powell’s in Portland, Oregon. I bought a book about the Somme on AbeBooks.com. I’m currently halfway through a biography of Siegfried Sassoon and the autobiography of Robert Graves. I just checked out World Without End, by Helen Thomas (wife of the poet/soldier Edward Thomas) from my university’s library.
And on some level I was only about 51% facetious when I told my parents on the phone yesterday, “So, this whole college thing. Can I do it over again and major in World War One?”
My point is that I’ve been shielding you all from the brunt of my mania by refusing myself an outlet here on the blog, because I’m afraid I’d talk about nothing else. I’ve missed blogging, though, so…I’m back. But I’m giving you all advance notice: I may occasionally ramble passionately/emotionally about my new favorite topic.
There. You’ve been warned.
And again, happy 2013.