Still, I can usually shake off a cold quickly if I'm not working, but this time the holidays started and I felt creatively dead. I was in the grip of extreme fatigue and everything felt grey. I hadn't felt like this since my first year teaching where I would scrape through the term only to collapse on the school holiday with extreme fatigue. I hadn't realised how much this term had taken out of me-two new subjects and having to create lessons plans, documentation, and teach them.
We always talk about finding the time to write and while it is true--there is no such thing as writer's block when you're working a full time job, in fact the opposite is true, too many ideas crowding for space in my head is my problem--having space to be creative and in the moment is the challenge. For three days I struggled for energy and felt no connection to my novel. The initial excitement I had felt, the complete conviction in the development of the book, the beginning of the world feeling real--had all faded. It was as if it wasn't a part of me anymore.
I debated with myself: do I rest for longer or do I try to push through, but I knew that if I didn't attempt to write these school holidays, next term would be even worse. Not only would I be suffering from work fatigue, but I would also be carrying the feeling of failure and so I started. For two hours I would write a few sentences at a time, only to flick over to another tab on my web explorer, desperate for a distraction. I felt like I wanted to jump out of my skin and writing was a physically unpleasant experience, but I persisted, laying down 1000 horrible words with the same enthusiasm (I'm guessing) a plumber feels at having to unclog a sewerage pipe. But in the end I got there. And the next day I repeated, and it was a little bit easier. And the third day the characters started speaking to me and the world I was creating became real. And I'm back in the moment.
For the next ten days I will keep laying the pipe, 1000 words a day at a time. I have a short window in which I can prioritise my creativity and revel in being a writer, even though I will also need to complete my lesson planning and corrections, and I'm going to enjoy every moment. Writing a book is not a sprint, instead it is a slow and torturous marathon that is run through the peaks of shiny inspiration and hollows of complete apathy. All we can do is keep fighting on: one word, one sentence, one paragraph, one page at a time.