Writing

Blocks, Breaks, and Breaking Blocks

Wood block break out

Photo: Philip Serracino Inglott (CC 3.0 Attribution-Share Alike)

Last Fall, I experienced a major block as I was nearing the end of my manuscript. I had completed Chapter 38—only two more to go—but after I typed these words I came up empty:

The One who is permanent, the Almighty, the Everlasting, to whom the mountains rise and fall like the tide, cares deeply for his creation, and he cares most of all for the smallest and the most fragile: lilies, and sparrows, and an eighty-two year old woman who had already lost her mind and her body and was ready to go home.

I had reached the point in the story where my mom dies, and I was blocked. I knew from the beginning that this would be the hardest part to write about. I even tried finding an ending earlier in the storyline and got off course for several months trying to force a conclusion I hadn’t fully earned. After that hopeless quest led nowhere, I returned to writing last summer completing chapters covering Anna’s progress in speech therapy and our major adjustments in the face of financial catastrophes. But the one part of the story I couldn’t bring myself to finish was my mom’s part, because to finish it would mean letting her go. I wasn’t ready to live through that experience again.

I wrote about her last September hoping that it would help. It did, but not enough to get past the block. I busied myself with other projects: my first paid publication, my first paid writing assignment, guest posts, reviews, and submissions. All the while, the manuscript lay unfinished, and longer it stayed unfinished the harder time I had getting back to it.

Then I got a gift: a forced break from another commitment. MyEugene was going on hiatus:

As we approach the spring season at MyEugene, we are looking forward to continued growth and expansion. So this month we are on hiatus, planting new seeds that will help take our community-driven news site to the next level.

This break comes at an ideal time. By being forced to give up one commitment I can redouble my efforts on another long-neglected commitment; the reason why I became a writer in the first place.

I can finally complete the manuscript.

Starting today, with the goal of finishing by the end of the month.

No more excuses.

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