I’m in recovery mode today. As I type, I am in yoga pants, a UVa t-shirt, and my mom’s old wool sweater. My legs are ensconced in a quilt, and my body leans comfortably into the recliner. Soon, I will watch hours of The Vampire Diaries between naps. I won’t talk much on the phone, and I definitely won’t spend time with people. I will try to do a little work, but mostly, I will rest. This is recovery for me.
Quiet. Isolation. No agenda.
It’s taken me 37 years of life to feel that I can do this for myself.
There is a school of thought out there in the writing world that says the only way to be successful in this work is to do more. To do more than we ever thought we could.
This idea – while it resonates me with me on the very true level that we cannot let fear hold us back and that we must always push to grow and challenge ourselves – also smacks a bit of the Protestant work ethic that drives so much of American culture. If we simply work harder, we will get more.
I think that’s nonsense. But I lived by that creed for almost 35 years. If I did more, things would be better. My life would be easier. I’d find more joy.
I’ve learned that busyness and pushing myself to exhaustion don’t produce much except my own illness and my grumpiness. Sometimes, I just have to rest.
Sure, there is value in hard work. . . but there is no guaranteed cause and effect relationship between work and results. Sometimes we work ourselves dry, and nothing comes of it. Sometimes we passively toss out an idea, and that idea becomes a massive undertaking. There is no promise that if we simply try harder things will all work out. That’s life in a broken world.
That’s the reality of writing. Sometimes, we work hard and sometimes we get “nothing” for it.
Nothing beyond the joy of the practice.
Sometimes the practice is simply to rest. Rest and be refilled.
For me, that involves a recliner, some blankets, cheese doodles and Twizzlers, and some really hokey TV that makes me ponder why writers choose certain vampire myths to perpetuate and others to discard. Sounds like a perfect recovery day to me.
What about you? How do you take rest when you need it?