Every once in a while, my regular writing life comes to an abrupt halt. I am at such a moment: I have two books at publishing houses, and must wait for copyeditors to complete their work before I dive back into those texts. I have another book—not nearly so far along—sitting with an editor. I promised her I would not touch the book—as I am too apt to do—until she gets back to me with her vital suggestions for revisions. Moreover, I am just about to go on a scheduled research trip for yet another book.
The problem is, I have lived this way for so many years that I am very bad at writing nothing. I become restless, with an overwhelming sense that I am missing something. Of course, what I am missing is writing. However, I am not, right now, supposed to be writing anything. How do I handle this? I sit down and write a short story that has been vaguely on my mind for some time.
My point is, as I start to write, as I play the keys, I have a physical sense of being released from my restlessness. Do not mistake me: I won’t pretend to say the short story is good, that it will lead anywhere, much less that it will ever will be published.
The fact, however, is simple: I am ill at ease unless I am writing something.