january! get back here!

Wrestling With Demons, by Luke Chueh

Whenever I finish working on a manuscript, I give myself free reign to abandon all discipline and consume instead of create. Books, TV, films, magazines, art, museum exhibitions, live comedy, music, podcasts … any and every creative outpouring from someone else's brain that even remotely takes my interest. And of course spending extra time with the friends and family I inevitably neglected during the deathmarch.

So, after delivering Cherry Crow Children, I gave myself the rest of December off. I figured an entire month, capped off with a gloriously deadline-free Christmas, would see me straight and I'd be able to start the new calendar year with new words. My goal for January wasn't productivity — I didn't want to be churning out chapters. Instead I wanted to play: to toy with possibilities, chase dead ends and dawdle over daydreams, and out of that would come new worlds on which to work.

Turns out one month wasn't enough. There's no lack of ideas itching for my attention. Yet, all through January, every time I sat down to any of them, I had nothing. The well was so empty the stones at its base no longer had any understanding of even the concept of wet.

I guess it isn't surprising. The longer a project takes, and the more it looms, the more it drains me. And refilling the well isn't so easy these days. Used to be I could tell everyone I knew not to phone, plant myself on the couch with a doona and a stack of books and movies, and let my mind recharge. Every weeknight and weekend for as long as it took, I could hermit myself away, or glut myself on friendships and social catch-ups. I spent all of January doing just that, when and where I could, but doing it in fits and starts, in between nappies and uneaten meals and sleep traumas, is a far less efficient path to medicinal gluttony.

And now here we are in February. I still have nothing, but I miss writing. I'm going to count that as progress.