The Pit of Despair

I returned to writing this afternoon after a hiatus of a few days. My husband kindly offered to manage the house and kids on his day off while I took several hours after lunch to dive back into my latest project. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly go as planned. Instead of disappearing into a blissful state of play and productivity, I took a wrong turn somewhere into the quicksand of the Internet and wound up in The Pit of Despair.

And yes, I’m borrowing from The Princess Bride (again?). I told you I was in the PoD. And sure, the first thing I want to do is throw my computer against the wall and dramatically give up writing for good and not consider for a moment that my depleted state might have something to do with a weekend in the sun and a few sick kids and a tickle that’s starting in the back of my own throat. Instead, because I somehow managed to arrive at adulthood with less than 100% of the recommended mental health, my earlier programming is telling me to just wallow, to read something into this sorry state of creative no-go, to sign a lease in the PoD and measure for curtains. Dark ones.

And the second thing I want to do is rise above, like a radiant, Oprah-infused, future candidate for sainthood who doesn’t get all tangled up in her leash. Who knows better. Who has the wisdom to pull back and reflect and find her sense of humor and purpose in one fell swoop. But the only problem with that is I am human.

So what’s a girl to do? Well, while I might be the only person on the planet who actually found a little comfort in the white-faced, shaggy haired denizen who introduces us to the PoD in the movie. “Don’t even think of trying to get out of here,” he says matter-of-factly, but I must say, it’s a fairly decent piece of advice. Sometimes, it’s much better to know that you’re in the PoD and not leap to conclusions. You don’t have to live there. You don’t have to leap out of there like you’re on fire. You can just survey the grounds, feel what you feel in there, and then walk out through a back door someone forgot to lock.

I’m sure PoD days are not for artists alone. It’s hard out there, for all of us, even if you’re living your dream, because living a dream means reaching beyond reality for something only you can see, and that can be lonely, stormy, uphill work. So I’m going to take a PoD day, call in sick to my muse, nurse this passing emotional flu with some family time and stupid TV and good food. Because this is the work, too – allowing for the humanity of it, the insecurity of it, the low points that make us able to reach out to others with compassion and empathy. It’s one thing to make a great thing, a greater thing to slow down and maybe comfort someone – even if it’s just yourself — in the process.

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