When the Writing Doesn’t Come

The writing comes in fits and starts during these latter days of the year. The sky is gray and the leaves on the sycamore tree have almost flown away for the winter. Its bare branches scrape against the cold gutters on the third floor of the house, and spring feels very, very far away. Men work in the alley behind our house, refilling a massive hole they dug not too many months ago, and isn’t that how life feels much of the time? Like an endless digging and filling of holes?

What are we searching for, really, in all of this excavating?

I play the music that reminds me of college – in those long, winter nights, in that campus in the woods, I could hibernate, and hibernate I did. There were weekends when I barely woke up. Long, leafless Saturdays when I slept until dinner time, then walked around campus alone in the dark, the melancholy heavy.

But in this current iteration of life, with a wife and five children, there is no sleeping until dinner, and very little time for walking hand-in-hand with melancholy. I am snapped away (thankfully) from such indulgences by the warm touch of a wife, the drool of a baby, the laughing plea of a child to play monster.

“Just five more minutes?” they ask, and I growl, and they squeal.

There is something restful about winter, when I allow myself to settle into it, when I stop counting down the months til spring, when I let the gray roll over me and I stop trying to surface.

The writing comes in fits and starts during these latter days of the year. Maybe it’s a good time to clean off my desk or rearrange my books. Maybe it’s a good time to let it sputter, go with it when it flares, and let it lie when its dormant.