You’re going along doing whatever it is that you do—in my case, writing—and suddenly your world blows up (or so it seems). You get hit in the head with a chunk of debris and end up on your rear end, wondering what happened. There you sit, trying to make sense of the senseless and becoming more immobilized by the minute.
It could be anything—an illness or accident, a family crisis, or a major loss—but whatever it is, it turns you into a zombie. If you are a writer, you simply stop writing. Words don’t come; what’s worse, you don’t ever care. That’s bad. No doubt about it.
In my own writing life, when this has happened, I have experienced a kind of miracle: I have somehow been able to convert the negative energy of the most stressful circumstances into the creative energy that fuels my writing process. I admit it has not worked 100 percent of the time, but in the past forty-plus years, it has happened. This never ceases to amaze me.
The next paragraph should be how to do it, but that’s the thing about miracles: they defy explanation. No matter how insane the situation in which I found myself, I usually wrote right through it. Sometimes, I cried or coughed or ran a fever or swore a blue streak while I was writing, but those things just seemed to intensify the process.
I have been teaching for many years and have yet to find a way to transmit this bit of alchemy. Perhaps in the beginning it was simply that I had a deadline, and it was unthinkable to miss it; so I sat down at my little Smith-Corona electric portable and just did what I had to do. Later, it was an ingrained habit. I had done it before; I could do it again. Maybe for each of us, there is a different trigger. I found mine by accident; I don’t know how you will find yours.
The important thing to know is that it can be done. You too can turn lead into gold. You just have to unravel the mystery in your own way. Please let me know if you do!