Today a student confided in me that he had recently broken up with his girlfriend of three and a half years. As he uttered this, he turned his gaze to the floor and I could see him struggling to stay composed. He went on to say that because of the breakup he hadn't been able to concentrate and work on the paper he was writing for class. I told him I understand. And I do. Losing someone, even a young love, leaves a dry, hollow emptiness inside.
For the last five months, I have not been able to concentrate. The result has been no writing of my own. The logical side of my brain is saying get to work, you're so close to having this collection of short stories finished, just an hour a day. I'll sit, then, in front of my computer. I'll even pull the collection up on the screen. After a minute or two, I'll close it out without having written a single word. I feel nothing when I see the words of my stories on the screen. I feel no desire to pick up where I left off. I feel only a hollow emptiness.
My friends tell me to give it a little more time. I'm afraid to, though. Time has a way of making dreams fade, disappear.
In talking with my student, the conversation took a turn, each of us saying where we find ourselves most happy right now. For him, it is when he's working out and running. For me, it is when I'm out riding the rural roads. It is in these activities that we find comfort, perhaps because of the control we have over the outcome.
Ever since the conversation with my student, I've felt tiny sparks of what I could do to the story left unfinished. While I haven't pulled the story up to work on it, I did go to my bookshelf for a book I've read before but feel the need to read again--Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing. As I thumbed through it, I came to a page I'd marked years ago: "Run fast. Stand still. This, the lesson from lizards. For all writers. Observe almost any survival creature, you see the same thing. Jump, run, freeze. In the ability to flick like an eyelash, crack like a whip, vanish like steam, here this instant, gone the next--life teems the earth." And another spark glows.