I took a week off. I didn’t open a word document, didn’t light up a blank page with scribbles. I didn’t form an opinion on anything. I didn’t brainstorm or try to transform wisdom into dialogue. I didn’t write one true thing and let it lead to another. I didn’t pontificate at all. I took a week off.
My brain didn’t stop working. I didn’t lose my passion for prose. I didn’t shut down the inputs; I read voraciously. I learned a new word. Voraciously. It means something like “with great hunger.” I read this week with great hunger. This paragraph would have been a lot shorter if I wouldn’t have slipped in a big word and then defined it. If I would have just said that I read with great hunger in the first place I could have avoided droning on about it. But I did. I read a lot. I just didn’t write. I took a week off.
Sometimes you have to. Stephen King would not agree, and maybe he’s right. Maybe I don’t want to be a writer bad enough. Maybe I don’t want to be anything bad enough to do it all the time. Great fishermen fish all the time. Great speakers are always speaking. Nobody was born great. God didn’t give Ray Allen the ability to shoot threes. He practiced. He did it all the time. He never took a week off.
Or maybe he did. I don’t have him on speed dial. If you run into Ray Allen this week will you ask him if he ever just takes a week off? He probably doesn’t. The great ones probably don’t.
But I did. I took a week off.
I don’t feel guilty about it. If I felt guilty about it I’d probably sit here and write a whole entry about it. I might do that, anyway, but don’t go casting aspersions about my state of mind because of it. This paragraph would have been a lot shorter if I had just said “doubting me” or “disparaging me” instead of saying “casting aspersions.” That might all be cut out in the second draft, anyway. The secret of great writing is great editing, you know? At least I think it is. I’m not a great writer. I take weeks off.
I have this entire piece I wrote two weeks or so ago about how we need to find some way to be ourselves in a world that is trying to mold us. I think it’s pretty good. I call “William Shakespeare” “Billy Shakes” in it, right there in the first sentence, to be sly. I think it’s pretty good. I haven’t read it in more than a week so I might be wrong. I talk about onions in it, too.
I almost posted it today instead of writing this. I almost posted it a week and a half ago instead of posting another thing. I received a lot of good feedback on the other thing, and it was an important thing to say, so I’m really proud of it. There is absolutely nothing important about what I’m writing today and I’m not really proud of that. But I’m out of practice. You know why.
I’m going to make a promise here in a second. It’s one that I really mean and, were I a better man, I would have made it years ago. I made it months ago, some of you might remember. I did pretty good with it for a while but, like all things, we do really good at something for a while sometimes and then we don’t for a bit. I’m not really proud of that last sentence at all. I’m not going to edit it. Sometimes we only recognize good writing when we see it bad. That was another terrible sentence. Let’s get out of this paragraph while we still can.
So, my promise: I’m going to write every day. I may not post every day because you would all quickly never read anything I ever post again. That’s how it works. Less is more. But just because I’m not posting doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be writing. Ray Allen probably throws basketballs at nets every day even when it’s not game day. I hope that’s the case. Because if he’s throwing up threes like he does, and he only ever throws while the clock is running, that means there’s some kind of god or something and he’s handing out him-given talents and I didn’t get one.
I can’t accept that yet.
Maybe next week I’ll write about something like that. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. I forgot I don’t have to wait until next week; I forgot my promise exactly 110 words after I made it. I’m going to forgive myself for that because I’m only human, I’m only one coffee in on a Saturday morning, and frankly I haven’t been doing as much thinking lately as I should. I’m out of practice with that, too.
I took a week off.
Thanks for welcoming me back with such vehemence. That word means…
Oh, forget it. Thanks for reading. Even when I don’t really write. 😉