…Well, It’s Sacred

So, like Katherine, I had no idea how timely this week’s topic was going to be.

Last Friday was a really poopy day (and not just as that statement relates to TNB). The kind of day that caused me to send my wife a text, “I think I’m going to quit.” A day that made me email with Muses, “I might take a hiatus from writing. Maybe a year. Get my brain back on straight.”

I won’t get into specifics, though I’m sure you’re dying to know – but it’s still too raw for me to openly discuss “the issue” with the blogoshphere. But it’s sufficient to say the low that I hit was deep, dark, and rocky.

After letting the world know I was quitting the game, my phone went nuts with emails pouring in from the Muses and a call from my wife. They all told me to just breathe – that the world wasn’t over – that I should hold off smashing my laptop (and my dreams) until I was less emotional.

The encouragement pulled my face from the rock bottom, beaten and bloody, but I was still way, way down there. That afternoon, I took a long lunch and hike with my family. We talked and talked about “the issue.” We problem solved. We dissected. We used our collective analytical minds. All of that made me feel better, too – yet the depths were murky.

I started reading one of my all time favorite books, LORD OF THE FLIES, and while it reminded me of the power of fiction, I was still in the dumps. I pet the dogs. I ate a Specialties chocolate chip cookie. I watched MODERN FAMILY (and even laughed). I cuddled with TNB (which did wipe away the pain, though it’d rush back the moment the lil’tyke was out of my arms).

All weekend, I tried everything in my toolbox to get out of the slump. (I know, I know, it takes time, etc. But for those that know me, a three day wallow is one for the record books).

Then, while on a mope-laden walk with the dogs on Sunday, I had the smallest inkling of a new idea. Something raw and terrifying and unformed. But there was something in it. A story. And, despite the hostile rockiness of my mind, it took root. By the end of the walk, it spread and leafed and was shooting my mood upwards like Jack’s beanstalk.

It wasn’t that I was looking for The Slutty Next Novel or necessarily needed one. What I needed was some imaginary world to construct. Scenes to imagine. Characters to interact with. Concepts to chew on. Even if this new idea is a bad one…another novel for the drawer…or one that never makes it to the page…I’m cool with that. See, I needed a story to tell, if only to myself.

By Monday morning, I emailed the Muses: “Hiatus…Schmi-atus.” Today, I’m still miles below the golden clouds in the sky. I’m still handling “the issue,” though from a much higher place.

So what does my post say about how I deal with the lows of writing? That friends and spouses and chocolate chip cookies won’t fix it?

They help an unspeakable amount and I’d still be much worse off if it weren’t for their love, support, and/or chocolaty goodness. But, the honest answer is No, they can’t fix the lows of writing. At least not for me.

In the end, the art of storytelling is the true cure. It’s why I’m here. It’s what I love. Sometimes the other parts of this business are great. Sometimes, they suck. But the act of creation, when it happens, is....

…well, it’s sacred.

And that is what gets me high.


arh glad you're getting back on form. When I went through this a few months back, I wanted to throw it all in, but then I was at a loss. What do I do now? What would I do with my life without writing? The idea of not having it, frightened me more than all the rejection. Sure I could do something else... but... I didn't want to. So begrudgingly, I started writing...
I'm so glad that it happened, because it made me reassess everything I was writing and my motivations. I know what I want to write now. Good luck!

Yes! This! ----> I needed a story to tell, if only to myself.

"And, despite the hostile rockiness of my mind, it took root. By the end of the walk, it spread and leafed and was shooting my mood upwards like Jack’s beanstalk." <-- Yes! And that!

Hey Bret -

Sorry to hear about your slump, but glad to hear about new shoots of growth.

LORD OF THE FLIES is also one of my all-time favorite books (even if it isn't exactly uplifting).

Thanks for this post--pouring ourselves into writing is such a huge risk--we can fall so far. But we do it because we have to, for that truth we need to tell. Good luck climbing back up. It's a cliche, I know, but you will be stronger for conquering this low.

Yay, Bret!!! I'm so happy you're pulling out of the slump, and I can't wait to read what comes next. And KILLER photo! Cheering for you, always.

great post, Bret. It can be so gut-wrenching to write and take a risk and falter and try again. I've read your work and whole-heartedly believe I'll be in line at your book signing one day! The process is what drives us as writers, what keeps us from parting ways. It IS us. Keep devoting time to your creations!!

Thanks for the support, everyone! I'd love to comment back directly, but that'd be an entirely new blog post! So let's just say that all these comments have made my day.

I'm still letting this new idea take shape - it terrifies me b/c it's (1) starting something new, (2) a departure from what I've done before, and (3) it isn't all the uplifting either (sorry, Ryan - I guess LOTF got to me).

Thanks, again, everyone. Now, off to fertilize that beanstalk.

Oh, and Veronica. I'm glad my buddy got that jumping picture - seeing as it was my last big jump. I didn't land it all that well and...let's just say I'm glad that I have TNB to confirm I can still bear offspring.

It IS sacred! I'm glad that creating stories brings you back to what you love - creating stories.

And yeah, cool jump!

Things can happen.

They just do.

But I'm glad you were able to go through the process of dealing with The Issue and beginning the process back up from the depths.

I'm happy the hiatus wasn't permanent. From someone who has also lived through some pretty low writing lows... Well, you're not alone. :)


I can't imagine what plunged you to such depths, but I'm glad it's over. You are a writer. Not letting yourself write would be like not eating or breathing. Slow death.


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