Well, that was a longer-than-intended writing hiatus (which leads me to question: can it really be the thing you were born to do, if you can stand being on this planet three whole months without doing it?)
My family break is officially over. The wheels are firmly on the wagon and it's rolling along. This week I felt the unfamiliar rumble of boredom and that's how I know it's time.
My screenwriter friend and I were talking last night about 'putting down the pen' on a writing project and how it's a lot like taking a break from an intense love relationship: when you get back together down the track, the hope is that you'll both reintegrate seamlessly, like the final act of a well-written romcom (in the days when there was such a thing). You'll rediscover each other with all your new parts and experiences and hopefully you'll hold a newfound appreciation--or at least an acceptance--of the other's more irritating ways, as well as your own.
In the best case, the new-yet-oldness of it will feel sublime and predestined and just plain great... but the reality is, unless you commit to some pretty tiresome reconstruction, it's more likely to feel awkward, forced and frankly a bit of a letdown.
So for me, three months out of action, it's time to 'do the work' with this creative reunion. Less love and inspiration, more effort and discipline. Just until we're back on good terms, although mere speaking terms will do for starters.
I didn't even read over summer, although I bought plenty of eBooks and squirrelled them away (or pouched them away, this being the land of marsupials and all). Hoping to post reviews very soon for the books at the top of the pile.
What I did during my hiatus, alongside caring for personal responsibilities, was inhale Westerns. Movies, TV and short stories.
I started off by revisiting all three seasons of Deadwood (Ah, Joanie Stubbs, the danger of a living heart in all that death!) then I jumped all over the genre and its hybrid forms, from Shane to Calamity Jane, from Deadman's Road to The Proposition, from doco series Cowboys and Outlaws to Frontier Conflict: The Australian Experience. Peckinpah, Ford, Hawks, Leone and all the artists who love them.
Westerns are so, so, so... good. Every word, every frame soaked in story. Heroes, antiheroes, archetypes and myths. Period costume, edible design and exquisite language. Sex, morality, dirty violins and revenge. Colonial brutality, original title and the hot blood-call of the land issue. The western is, I've come to realise, a complete artform, it needs nothing else.
This thought has sparked a direction and I'm going to follow it, like a new cologne on an old boyfriend.