Burning Up

18 Oct

Yesterday there was a huge plume of smoke coming from the mountains in front of my house. It’s that dry time of year when the parched hills have again erupted in flames, but that’s about the only thing around here that’s been on fire. I may be sweaty, tired and hot–but I’m certainly not on fire.  I’m completely unmotivated, and I need a change. It’s October, for goodness sake, and summer should be long gone. The days are supposed to be crisp and refreshing by now, and this eighty-plus degree weather around here has done nothing except remind me that California is indeed a desert.

Not only has the sweltering heat increased the fire danger, I also think it’s affected my ability to write. Lately, all of my interesting ideas have simply evaporated.  My brain feels as mushy as a ripe peach that’s been left in a hot car with the windows rolled up—there’s a good chance that it may explode into a sticky, fermented mess at any moment.

Each morning I sit at the computer and brood over what to write, yet I’m as dry as a sandy creek bed.  Even though I wake up energized with unqualified intention to get something written down, the few sentences I do manage to write are unimaginative. Nothing is flowing. I finally get to the point where complete despair sets in and I want to give up. Why bother? I tell myself. Then I start to avoid writing entirely.

I’m at expert when it comes to avoiding writing: I read. I clean. I do laundry. I work. I’m very good at pretending to be busy with the little details of my life. This week, I avoided writing by spending time pouring over cookbooks and turned out several fabulous meals for my family using the slow cooker. My husband was in was in total heaven as I recreated the dishes of his childhood in Oaxaca: Caldo de arrez, Pollo en mole verde, and Abondigas soup. He was happy, the kids were happy, and so was I–at least for a few days, but now I find I’m already bored with this whole cooking thing.

It’s such a conundrum. When I’m not writing, I’m often unhappy because I miss it.  When I am writing, I’m often unhappy because I feel that it’s not up to par.

Savory Albondigas (Meatball soup)

It’s difficult for me to let go of the idea that I always have to be so productive with my writing. The fundamental urge to prove myself is as stifling as the hot winds that fanned the flames on the mountain yesterday. I should just give myself a break for once and not force the process; I need to learn to let it just happen when it’s supposed to happen. As I tell the kids: The soup will be ready when it’s ready.

Like that dry chaparral on the hillsides, I must wait for the perfect conditions to be present; only then it will be my turn to explode into a burst of energy and motivation.  When the time is right, the words will again flow out of me like wildfire and there will be no stopping me.

And if that doesn’t happen, I can always take up knitting.

(By the way, the fire is finally out, and the forecast this weekend is for cooler temperatures, so you may very well be hearing from me again soon…)

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9 Responses to “Burning Up”

  1. Becky Green Aaronson October 18, 2012 at 10:20 am #

    Sounds like you need to go for a dip in the ocean to cool off and re-energize…or maybe you need to start writing for Edible Santa Barbara! You have many talents, my friend. Combine them (like you did your gardening piece) and you will be in heaven! So glad the fire is dwindling. Nothing like smoke on the mountain to give you an instant stomach ache. I know it did me. 😦

    • Allegro non tanto October 18, 2012 at 1:10 pm #

      That was pretty scary yesterday! Thanks for the comment, Becky–maybe I will look into writing a “foodie” piece!

  2. Tracey October 18, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    Creative weariness is an occupational hazard easily remedied by moving on to something else. When you’re multi-talented, as you are, it’s not too difficult. Meanwhile, don’t be so hard on yourself.

    Also glad the fire seems to be diminishing.

    • Allegro non tanto October 18, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

      Well, Tracey, if I ever need help learning to knit, I know whom to ask for help.

  3. Corrine Appelbaum October 18, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Hey I would LOVE the recipe to your Abondigas soup, sounds delicious! Miss you!!

    Corrine Corrine Appelbaum Client Relations Safe Haven Wine Services 805.238.7233 phone 888.338.6313 fax “Full Service Solutions, Full Service Peace of Mind” http://www.SafeHavenWineServices.com

    From: Allegro non tanto <comment-reply@wordpress.com> Reply-To: Allegro non tanto <comment+r6uwolsrmm-9sijxu0lnfel@comment.wordpress.com> Date: Thursday, October 18, 2012 10:08 AM To: “corrineappelbaum@gmail.com” <corrineappelbaum@gmail.com> Subject: [New post] Burning Up

    Allegro non tanto posted: ” Yesterday there was a huge plume of smoke coming from the mountains in front of my house. It’s that dry time of year when the parched hills have again erupted in flames, but thats about the only thing around here thats been on fire. I may be swe”

  4. Deborah Batterman October 18, 2012 at 12:42 pm #

    I know that feeling well — the need to be productive — and I am often out of sorts when I’m not actively writing. I’ve come to appreciate, though, that maybe it’s less about waiting for the right conditions and more about setting the conditions (in our myriad distracted ways) for the next project. Some writers work in bursts, others need the consistency of being at their desks, same time every day. This post is positively simmering, despite the way it addresses some frustration. Isn’t it a gift when the outside world becomes the very trigger, undercurrent, etc., for what’s going on inside?

    • Allegro non tanto October 18, 2012 at 1:12 pm #

      You know, Deborah, just sitting down and writing about how I can’t write anything actually helped me!

  5. Melanie October 28, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    So much for cooler days…. I want to come over when you’re feeling bored. Abondigas soup and pollo en mole verde sound good to me! And as for knitting: unmotivated, you still manage to knit words together in captivating fashion, successfully distracting my attention from the piles of ungraded papers that sit before me.

  6. Charla Bregante December 8, 2012 at 10:13 am #

    Somehow I missed this one. Love it! I think one of the hardest things to do is allow ourselves to write badly for awhile and have faith that better writing will follow. Of course we don’t have to SHARE the bad stuff!!

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