I spent a week in the mountains last week, planning to do some catch-up work, maybe read and start rewriting The Mirror Girl, figure out how to structure this complicated puzzle of a new WIP, and block out some other work.   I arrived on a Saturday, alone with my collaging materials and iPad and books.

The first morning, I woke up FULL of plans.  I had eight days to work, alone, without distractions! I could rewrite the whole book! Plan the little series in my head! Collage the WIP and see if that helped shake the structure loose!  I got out of bed at 5 am, rested, and thought how lovely I would feel about myself if I managed to take home ALL THAT WORK!

One of the other things I promised myself was that I would meditate every morning for as long as I wanted. I sometimes rush because I feel the pressure of getting the day started.  So that was my first action: to drink a cup of tea on the balcony and then meditate in the sunshine. A fox came to see if I had tidbits to share.  Birds twittered in the trees. The sun rose over the mountains.

I fell into bliss.  And you know, I didn’t really want to read the pages of TMG, but after breakfast, I sat down to do it.

And I fell asleep.

Then I took a walk and ate lunch and had a second nap and spent the evening reading a book.  Alone, in the quiet. It was a little lonely.  I

my breakfast companion most days

was a little bored without the animals or Christopher Robin to talk to.  I went to bed very early, and again awakened very early.

Rinse and repeat.  Monday, Tuesday.  Except that Tuesday, I skipped the pretending-to-work part and leapt straight to reading a novel written by someone else.  I started it in the morning and read the entire day until I finished, at which point I wandered down to the village and sat by the river, journaling, shooting photos of the melting ski runs with my camera phone because I didn’t want to be bothered to carry my big camera.

By Wednesday, I began to realize I was not interested in working.  I didn’t pick up any pages I’d written.  I didn’t journal or blog. I just read and then took a walk, then had dinner with CR.  Slept long.

Rinse, repeat. Thursday, Friday, we wandered down for breakfast, wandered around town for awhile, wandered back to lie around and read.  When I got bored Thursday, I started collaging the WIP, find enthusiasm for the project and possible glimmerings of a fix for the problem.  Love the characters a LOT.  Love the setup a LOT.  Feel strongly that it has the potential to be really good work.  Optimism restored.

By Friday night, after we’d walked for four or five hours, all over the village, shooting photos, eating Danishes and vegetable sandwiches, shopping for treats for the baby and my d-i-l, I realized that what I’d needed was REST.  Pure, unadulterated rest.  Even boredom.

That night, I worked on the collage some more, drank a couple of beers, fell asleep early reading the third novel of the week. When I awakened, the plot and characters of the WIP were swirling around like a jigsaw puzzle in my head, fitting themselves into various arrangements for my perusal.

If I am to think about the qualities of a wise woman, an elder, then I have to make sure that an examination of rest is on there.  In our hurry, hurry, hurry material world, rest is desperately neglected.   I am very guilty of pushing myself until I crash, like student cramming for finals, and that’s not wise behavior.

Happily, I am refreshed and relaxed, and I have already scheduled a retreat for three months away, so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

Do you find it hard to get enough rest? Do you even recognize when you’re overly tired?


7 thoughts on “Rest

  1. It’s people like you that make my day…

  2. Ha ha ha…I often find myself doing the same thing… I look forward to having the time to write, the freedom of two whole days. Then I get there and have stage fright. Or I procrastinate by taking a nap, reading, painting and cooking. I had to stop making myself feel guilty and just go with what I needed and felt right.

    Because then suddenly I find days later that it is all pouring out of me the words to the page maybe not when I wanted it to, but when it needed too and my writing is better for it.

    I love that when I started reading this I had to laugh with understanding and reply. Because I have been procrastinating all dang week…

  3. Shannon, that’s it! Days later, I’m all awash with new ideas that the rest gave me.

  4. What a wise and wonderful post – I so needed to hear this. I feel that I’m constantly behind in my work, so much so that I then get frozen into complete inaction and fearful that I’ve forgotten how to write fiction. Your post reminded me that it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of only defining writing by the number of hours we sit in front of our computers. The real truth is, writers write all the time and most importantly, it is those hours when we’re doing nothing but relaxing that we can pull the stories out of the well. Thanks, Barbara, this was wonderful.

  5. Autumn

    Barbara, thanks so much for this post! I too have been beating myself up with negative self-talk for taking a break from writing because the Day Job has been super stressful.

    So much to do, falling so far behind my productivity targets and my self-imposed submission deadlines, gotta keep writing, gotta get busy! I’ll never get published it I don’t!

    But it’s not laziness or procrastination. I genuinely need the time off. I’m reconsidering what I’m doing. Trying to find ways of being more authentically myself and bringing all of my life into line with what is true for me.

    Though if I’m still saying this in a couple of weeks time, I need a kick up the bum!

  6. Cheryl, isn’t it funny that we have to still keep reminding ourselves of this after so many years in the game?

    Love that, Autumn. Being authentically yourself…but also, yes, noticing when that has turned to procrastination.

  7. Tawna Coombs

    Can I simply say what a relief to seek out someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know find out how to bring a difficulty to light and make it important. Extra individuals have to learn this and understand this aspect of the story. I cant imagine youre no more in style since you definitely have the gift.

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