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Taking a break, and sweet potatoes

I’ve been approaching this week with some trepidation: this is when I return to writing fiction after a hiatus.

I’ve been busy during this time-away: Reading and critiquing work for my manuscript group, and planning and teaching writing workshops. Writing the script for a dramatic program to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the execution of Ethel & Julius Rosenberg, to be held in New York City next June. Reading some amazing new and forthcoming fiction – THE OBITUARY WRITER by Ann Hood, and THE COMFORT OF LIES by Randy Susan Meyers and ALL THIS TALK OF LOVE by Christopher Castellani and KIND OF KIN by Rilla Askew. And most recently, I’ve had four delicious days with growing grandbabies and gatherings of my extended family.

Of course, I’ve been thinking about my characters during this time, but thinking about writing and doing it are two very different activities. During these five or six weeks of not-writing-fiction, I haven’t been going to the writers room at the Forbes Library on Wednesdays. I haven’t been getting together with my friend Jacqueline to write and share our work on Friday mornings. And I’ve noticed that when I’m not actively engaged with loved ones – talking with a daughter or snuggling my granddaughter or feeding the little dude micro-spoonfuls of sweet potatoes – when I’m alone, I feel oddly bereft, like something critical is missing.

So yesterday, comfy in my pajamas and robe, coffee at my side, I returned. Not that I got a huge amount done; chunks of time was spent reading what I’ve written and trying to decipher my scribbled notes and half-scraps of paragraphs. But that isn’t important. What matters is that I feel like I’m home, I’m back to being me. Writing fiction often doesn’t come easy; it’s hard work. But it’s work that makes me feel fully alive.

This morning, on day two of back-to-fiction, I look around. There’s a dusting of snow outside my window. It is warm and comfy in here. I am so very grateful. It’s a different grateful than I felt looking around the family thanksgiving table last week, but just as powerful.

I sure do miss those sweet potatoes though, now that the littlest dude has returned home.
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