On Swimming. And Writing. And Love Affairs With Story.

It’s consuming in a way. No, in all ways. Like a love affair. Or a roller coaster. Or a horror movie. It overshadows everything else in your world. It IS your world, Right Now In This Moment, permeating into every pore, every cell. This thing called creation. This growth of a story. This incubation period. Gestation. Evolution.

This immersion.

When you step away for a break or because other commitments make it necessary, it’s almost scary to return. You dip your toes in the water and think, am I ready for this? Am I ready to give myself over? To lose myself? To have this otherness responsible for whether I float or drown? To become dependent on it? To have it swallow me whole? To submerge? Am I ready to immerse?

Am I ready?

I will have to put everything else on the back burner, as they say. Bottom of the totem pole. Lowest priority. Things I’ve enjoyed being wholly present for while not consumed with Story. Things I love. Things I don’t necessarily want to have fade into the background. But it’s the price, isn’t it? The creative muse is selfish that way. “All or nothing,” it tells me. “I want you all for myself,” it purrs.

“You leave me,” my husband once said of my affairs with Story. Not literally, of course. I’m here. But I’m not. My body is here, but my mind is in bed with Story.

“MOM,” my son yells, because he’s had to say it four times before snapping me out of my reverie. “Mom, did you even hear me?”

No, I tell him. Because I’m not here. I’m not this mom you speak of. Not at this moment. I’m a character. In her skin. Or his. I’m seeing through other eyes. I’m reacting to other stimuli. “I’m sorry,” I tell him. “I was in my story.”

IN. As if I’m in another dimension. Inside. Part of.

Not merely treading water, or my senses would still be open to receive. Vulnerable to distraction. No. I’m under the water. Submerged. Baptized. Sound and light muted. Buffered. Protected. Shrouded from anything other than Story.

Like a siren, Story calls for me from its watery depths, luring me, pleading. My characters grow impatient. Pacing, checking their watches. “What’s taking you so long?” they say in unison, their features rippling just under the water’s surface. “Come back to us.”

“I’m coming,” I assure them, kicking the water with my toes, leaning ever so slightly over the edge of the dock, but even as the words come out of my mouth, butterflies swirl in my stomach. The thought of giving myself over so completely is both tantalizing and earth-shaking. Tempting and timorous. Irresistible and…..

Irresistible.

Irresistible. 

To be incapable of resisting. How totally and tragically accurate.

With a quick glance back at my life, at my family, at my friends, at my house, at my pets…my eyes say it all: Forgive me. I’m sorry. Be patient with me.

And then I slide into the water. Down. Further. Into the waiting arms of Story.

Immersed.

 

23 comments

    1. This is why I don’t write in the summer or over school holidays…..I can’t. Once I’m immersed, it is very difficult for me to snap out of it and be fully present for other things. It’s an effort; something I have to force myself to do with deliberate intent. And I don’t like it….that feeling like I’m neglecting other parts of my life, but this is what happens so I deal with it by giving in to it fully when I am needed least in other areas, and then separating myself fully when other things/people need me more.

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      1. That’s precisely what happened to me over the summer. And now? I’m finding it very difficult to get back in the water. Your approach is smart – recognize what we can do and when we can do it. The compartmentalization makes sense from both sides.

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  1. Ugh! Yes! I was talked into doing a couple of anthologies right in the middle of writing book 2. It’s soooooooo hard to get back into it. I wish I hadn’t taken a break.

    Can’t wait to hear of your new book release! 😀

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