Emerging from Creative Hibernation

I’ve been in what I like to call a creative hibernation. I don’t believe in the dreaded “b” word. Creative hibernation feels like it is just a part of the process. I do that sometimes. I hunker down and I always think, “This is it. I’m done writing.” Not out of a hissy fit or anything. I just don’t feel the urge. Nothing is stirring in my subconscious. No characters lurking, beckoning. The only way I know it’s not for real is that I feel this sliver of terror that I am no longer a writer. If I really didn’t care, I really wouldn’t care. So, I’ve come to take these periods of hibernation for what they are. Creative hibernation. A time to recharge. Relax. Read. A lot. Then, slowly I start getting antsy. Restless. Then I become downright irritable with myself and everyone around me. That’s when I know it’s time to hit the page again and the relief I feel is overwhelming. Of course I’m a writer.

One of the things that sent into this particular hibernation was more than just part of my creative process. Part of it was this rejection I got. It really hit me hard. Usually, I just roll with it. It wasn’t the right editor/journal. time, whatever. Send it out again and move on. But this one… this one I let my hopes get up. Way up. Like sky high up. It was the novel I submitted to a contest back in March. I heard on October 8 that I didn’t win. Not only did I not win, I didn’t even place, even though they had a record number of honorable mentions. That really hurt. Seriously, I read the list of winners at least five times thinking I must’ve missed seeing my name. Once I realized that I had not missed my name, I sat back and cried. Yep, cried. Later in the kitchen I told my husband and cried again. He said all the right things. Hugged me. Encouraged me. Finally I said that I appreciate what he’s saying but that right now, I needed to wallow. So I did. Apparently I wallowed for forty days. And forty nights. And now I am done.

One of the things that pulled me out my funk was a dear writing friend, Laura and she doesn’t even know it. The other morning I checked out the novel she wrote and self-published this year. I read the first six sample pages on Amazon and found myself reading it like a reader, not as a former member of her writing workshop. Her writing had gone to this whole new level. I added it to my wishlist so that I can buy it for myself after Christmas shopping is done. In the meantime, I was so inspired by the work she had done, by her writing, by the faith she showed herself by self-publishing and marketing it via all forms of social media and is hard at work on her next novel that I snapped out of my own self-imposed creative pity party and printed out the 87 pages I have of my WIP. I pulled out “The Writer’s Mentor” by Priscilla Long, a book that I have to repress the urge to underline almost every single sentence in because, I swear, she is talking directly to me. I gathered a notebook for my writing practice, a book for my lexicon, my laptop, morning pages notebook and came to the bookstore.

I’ve been working for two hours. Wrote and typed a new scene. Created a word trap for my WIP. As I strolled the bookstore, (after I wrote) I came across a book that intrigued me for its structure. It gave me an idea for a structure I could use in my novel, something I have looking for for a long time.

My plan is to come here Monday-Wednesday this week from 9-12. That kind of structure works for me. It gives me a time to be at my desk and it gets me away from the TV, housework, internet.

My plan is to keep working with Long’s book, work on my WIP, blog and tweet on a more regular basis, stay connected to the social media community of writers, submit my other novel to another contest, research and submit to an agent and just keep showing up. Just keep writing. Keep working.

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6 thoughts on “Emerging from Creative Hibernation

  1. Awww, Kim! It’s actually funny, because a twitter buddy and I were just digging through folders of old writing this evening, and I was CRINGING at some of the godawful stuff I asked you guys to read back then. Nobody should have had to read that stuff, lol!

    But you are so right! Hibernation is an essential part of the process. I routinely take certain times of the year off – most of the summer, the whole middle of the winter, and several other weeks here and there – just to have some time to build up the juices again. Reading, living, family, playing my Sims, cleaning my house. 😉

    Writing takes so much out of us. Of course we need to recharge. I’m so glad you gave yourself that time. And I’m sorry to hear about the contest. Hope is a fickle and scary thing. We need it, but at the same time, we also need to protect ourselves from it, because it’s just the nature of the job that it turns around to bite us back sometimes. First as rejections, then later as bad reviews (just got my first of those recently!). Crying is natural. So are chocolate and wine. We get over it and we carry on, and that is what makes us writers. You’re doing all the right things!

    I am so immensely flattered that you thought so much of my first pages. I’ve had a lot of amazing teachers along the way, and once upon a time you were one of them. So thank you! ❤

    • Laura- Believe me, we ALL have those cringe-induciing stories! They helped get us to where we are now:) And yes, there’s always this fine line I seem to be treading between maintaining hope/confidence/positive thinking regarding my work and the reality of how hard it is truly is to get my work out there into the world. Looking forward to reading your book!

  2. Well I say congratulations, you’ve surmounted an immense hurdle, dealing with a rejection that shook your foundation and plunged you into the symbolic 40 days before entering a new phase, which I am sure this will be. Trying to get published traditionally seems to be almost as much a mind game as it is an activity, and I don’t have any answers for how to make it any less so, but I managed to change my perspective on rejections by turning that into a challenge. I started writing short stories to send out in between novels and with a poet friend, we set a target number of rejections, so that in fact when the work came back to us, it was more of a joyous occasion, because it was released to be sent elsewhere, it’s about finding the right fit – there is no one standard for appreciation, and it takes a while to find out where our work fits. Keep going, you are doing great work and you will see it with different eyes now. Don’t wait on one outcome, send out a few other things and keep writing.

    • Claire- Thank you so much for your kind, thoughtful response. I should’ve reached out earlier via my blog and maybe my hibernation wouldn’t have lasted so long:) I love the twist you put on getting rejections. It’s something I am considering for the New Year. Thanks again for your support and encouragement.

  3. Kim this is such an inspiring post. I’m so glad that you wrote it! When I find myself lost in the writing desert I usually find reading blogs like yours gives me the energy and the inclination to try again. It seems like every time I think of giving up, I can’t. Writing is an addiction and one that won’t let go of our tails it seems. Looks like we’re all in for the long haul!! I’m so glad to be in your company! 🙂 BTW I LOVE Priscilla Long’s book too. It’s my Writing Bible. xxx

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