Diary of a Writer, Day 3: Chewing the Cud

For the third time in as many days, I got up yesterday morning at six-thirty, showered, brushed my teeth, made coffee, and started to write. The last time I started my days regularly like this was in spring 2018 and I was in the last stretch of writing my MFA thesis. Back then this routine seemed like the easiest thing in the world. Right now, not so much.

My writing muscle is still a bit twitchy as well. It’s like a physical workout: when you haven’t worked out in a while, you can feel every fiber of your muscle. It may even be worse the day after. But by the third or fourth day, it gets a little easier. Not so much during the workouts – those still hurt and your muscles might even feel a little less loose than when you started – but the recovery is quicker and easier. Some things even start to come back naturally: words, phrases, metaphors. Even the thing that is commonly known as “inspiration.”

I still feel a bit like a camel, regurgitating my old ideas.

I can honestly say that I haven’t had a decent, (somewhat) original idea since 2018. Anything I explored in the almost four years since then was cud – regurgitated old ideas that sometimes fell out of my mouth and landed on the floor, and sometimes got chewed and swallowed again, but never actually made its way through my literary digestive system.*

And then yesterday…an idea!

Now, it is too early to say whether this idea is any good. And to be honest: it isn’t even much of an idea. I view it more as the foundation of an idea. The idea of an idea, if you will. But it could also be the head of a long queue of ideas that are just waiting to develop into more solid ones and, eventually, into stories. If not that, then at least it might be a sign of life. Perhaps the old jukebox needed just a little kick in the side.

That should do it for now. I need to rest. I can already feel my writing muscle. It will be sore in the morning. But I just have to work through it. The only other option is to regurgitate the cud forever and that is not very appealing to me.

*I realize that, in this metaphor, a finished story is equal to feces, but I don’t think we might be too far off in some cases.

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