“The private fantasy of uninterrupted time--time to waste, time to pour through my fingers if I want to, time to savor, time to loll in--has a different emotional texture than planned time off. Time extracted from the ongoing stream of schedules, commitments, and responsibilities, always balanced against such counterweights as “Can I afford it?” “Do I deserve it?” “What are my responsibilities?” “Will it be worth it?” and “Dare I, can I actually get away with it?”
All this -- and more -- is constantly churning in the back of my mind as I get closer and closer to the end of the year. Am I really going to do this?
In fact, it’s pretty much too late to turn back now. I’ve steadily (stubbornly?) resisted taking on any commitments for 2012, and now most of my publisher’s schedules are filled. If I publish anything next year it will be self-published.
That in itself is exciting. A new direction. A new challenge. A new adventure.
But doubts whisper in my other ear. I’ve worked hard to reach this point, the point of being able to even consider taking a serious amount of time off. Am I subconsciously sabotaging my success?
Will I miss my fantasy, so shiny and satisfying, so “unattainable”--an ideal I can wistfully compare to my busy, hectic life? With no future fantasy beckoning in the distance, will I instead look back to these busy days as the more rewarding times, when what I did mattered, when I felt useful, and “good,” because I did for others?
How ingrained the work ethic is: to contribute, to excel, to climb the mountain, to use my “gifts” to do, to do, to do--to produce, to accomplish, to succeed.
Oh yes. I feel guilty even contemplating rewarding myself with sabbatical. Especially when everyone I know is busting their butt to make ends meet, to hit their goals, to carve a career out of ice.
Not that I’m choosing a sabbatical as a reward. I’m burnt out. I’ve been burnt out for nearly two years. But so what? I can still produce. The fact that I’ve come to dread writing is sort of beside the point, right? Because as long as I can function, it seems like I ought to.
I suppose that’s why the decision to go on sabbatical feels increasingly like a reward and not therapy.
All I want is the chance to stand still for a while, to reflect, to feel, to listen more carefully to my own voice. Just to wait and see what bubbles up. One fear is that nothing will “bubble up,” that no combustion, no energy will be generated. I fear that only cold wind blows in there--I fear a desert inside.
Yes. Exactly. Worse…right now I can function. I can produce. What if I come back from this break and I’ve lost the ability to drive myself forward, to work under this kind of pressure? What if it turns out I can’t refill the creative well and on top of that, I’ve lost the discipline to march on without water in my canteen?
It’s a risk. Will readers remember me in a year in a genre where there a couple hundred new titles every month?
I wake up at night thinking are you really going to do this? And yet…and yet…