Hey Guess What? I’m Still Out Here

I haven’t posted since March. I mean, the fact is self-evident, it’s right below this post so I’m not sure why I’m telling you exactly, but this is important. It’s important to understand that I have not given up on this site, on my career, any of it. I’ve simply been in the writer’s cave and the “I’m-not-sure-where-I’ll-living-in-six-months” cave. Smack in the middle of a move necessitated by our landlord selling the place. I don’t blame him, really. It was time to move. It would have been better if the move were to the West Coast, but sometimes you take what you can get.

So we move to Virginia on July 7th. Lots and lots of stuff to do, and you can imagine I’m just raring to go. Nah, we’re in a good position, actually. Lucky in some way that we started planning back in January.

There has been, however, a great deal of angst, I regret to report. It’s been some slow going in the writing department. Everything started to pile up on me starting in mid-May and I needed to step away from writing – and life – for a good week or so. Use packing as a sort of therapy. And it helped! I was able to examine some of the emotions that I’ve been feeling lately and figure out how they could serve as a guiding hand in finishing up the latest draft of Came to Believe.

And that’s really what I’m here to talk about, is the book. Before the break I was having trouble staying in the moment of a particular scene. I’m not going to spoil anything, but it involved a character who is sort of a living animus for some negative experiences I had during my childhood. Did I mention this is an intensely personal book? Yeah. Anyway, I was having trouble pushing myself over the line to face that antagonist. Too much bad emotion, too much exhaustion, whatever. Couldn’t take it.

So all last week I went completely silent. Didn’t allow myself to imagine scenes that rose above action movie (it’s a compulsion, this seeing scenes in my head thing, they’re always there, I just control where they go); this kept me from digging too deep into things beyond a general feeling of taking action. I’m sure it sounds absolutely insane, but it cleansed me.

Monday, I went back to the scene with the antagonist and eased my toe in the water, fearing that I might have lost it. It was like…I don’t know, waking up, when I realized that the scene was almost spent and really needed like a page-and-a-half with a very clear ending. The antagonist still troubled me, yes, but I was in a better mental state to face him.

Since then, it’s been one of those ever-climbing bar charts when it comes to word and page count. And I think it’s good stuff, not just trying to crank out words for the sake of it. I want to write. The thirst has awakened again, and I think my subconscious has processed some of what’s going on.

It feels good. I think I’m ready to get things moving again. I may even try an experiment in opening up my drafting process to the readers as I move forward, sharing little tidbits of the story with you and exploring how some characters have changed. It could be a fun, shared journey. I don’t know how much I’ll be able to do in the next few weeks, but I will do my best to keep you updated. Oh, and to any new readers, welcome. I hope you enjoyed what you’ve read so far. We’re really only at the beginning.

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  1. Thanks for sharing where you are at with the book and your life. Sometimes we humans have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

  2. I know you’ll be fine. I love you!

  3. There’s a difference between writing novels on an intellectual level vs adventure level vs personal level. I think the most personal are the hardest, because you add in an element of fear along with a deeper need to get it right.

  4. Hey Jonathan,
    Welcome back!
    That’s as clear a case for why we need writer’s block as I have ever heard. It’s not that we are too lazy to write, it’s that something is cooking and needs time to get done. No one else can see under the surface, so we need to trust our own process and not worry about it!
    Check out Sting and the EXACT same issue:

  5. Hello, friend!! I understand the need to take a break from writing every now and then, especially when you are writing on such emotionally and psychologically charged topics. I take about five weeks off a year, and a day here and there throughout when life (LIFE!!) thrills or overwhelms. It’s better for me to take those breaks than to force myself forward. That was a tough lesson to learn, but it keeps me from getting so low in my psychic reserves that I cease to be able to function in my daily life. I suspect a long list of artists didn’t ever learn that lesson, given how many (and very sadly) get to the suicidal breaking point.

    Be well!


    • Jonathan D Allen

      Hey there! It’s always been a tough lesson for me to learn. I take after my father that way, actually, both of us sometimes have trouble recognizing our limits and then when we hit them we continue to plunge forward anyway. I agree, though, I think much artist burnout and depression comes from not allowing the battery to “recharge”.

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