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Emily Morrison Emily Morrison
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Back from the dead...

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Writers block... Writers block...

For the past three months I've been on a writing hiatus. I don't know why I stopped writing. It wasn't a conscious decision. One week of silence turned into two, then three, then a month. One month ebbed and flowed into another, then another, until the still waters of time covered over any remaining urge I had to write. Though I've written grocery lists, sent sporadic emails, scrawled my John Hancock for purchasing purposes, for the past few moons I've barely sent a thought out into the void. In fact, this is the longest period of time since third grade (I was in a real drought first and second) that I have gone without writing. Let me tell you, something dies inside when a writer stops writing. 

This is how the death begins: You get busy. Your day job seems like your night job and the freshman in college comes home with more health predicaments than doctors have diagnosed yet. Your house is a disaster and something about the insidious mess starts eating away at you from within. You go to sleep amid piles of clothes, clothes that by some miracle have been washed but not yet sorted and clothes that have been sorted but not yet washed. At times, you think of crawling into the piles instead of your own bed it's been a while since the sheets have smelled of an ocean breeze.

There's an end of the year party to attend, a preschool graduation to cry at and an anthology that needs to be edited. When exactly do you have time to pick up a pen? Soon, soon, you tell yourself. I'll make time soon. But soon the 18-year-old turns 19, and she wants you to cater the beach party with home-made salads and grilled cuisine. Buying the presents, pinata and zebra themed decor take precedent over writing stories. June turns into July without so much as a whisper from your laptop. 

The part of your brain that yearns to take down its thoughts and send them somewhere has now gone into auto-pilot mode. The captain is still in the cockpit, but there seems to be some engine trouble. You look the same, sound the same, do the same things, but no one seems to notice that your plane is grounded. Some of the passengers begin to rumble, 'Have you written anything lately? What's wrong with the engine?' but they don't seem concerned by your lack of initiative. 'You'll get going again. You just need a little break,' they say. You hope they're right, but they're all beneath you anyway. They don't understand what it takes to keep this 747 in the air. You're out of gas, juice and those tasty little airline peanuts that keep everyone from perishing during the flight.

Independence Day comes and goes without so much as a spark from your computer. You're traveling between the in-laws, the extended family of the in-laws and your parents. Betwixt the houses, tents and camps that you've taken up temporary residence in, a nagging sense of dread takes permanent residence in your head. What if you never write again? What if this is really all she wrote? You take a run in a cemetery to still the writing demons and read the gravestones for inspiration. 'Always loved, always loving.' Hmm, there's really not much more you can say. Four words. Everything you can think of to write pales in comparison to four words on a tombstone. Your muse flatlines.

You return home with dirty laundry, a husband with a mysterious rash and kids who have caught a viral infection of some sort. In between the constant rounds of doctor visits and antibiotics, the teenager tears loose a tiny bone in her ankle while hopping over rows of strawberries. She can't put any weight on her foot and needs to keep it iced and elevated for two weeks. Amid this chaos, watch your niece and nephew for the day, make sure they wear sunscreen and their life jackets and tell them to avoid the black bear in the driveway.

By now, the passengers are restless. Friends you haven't talked to in a while ask you, 'What's up? Aren't you writing still?' Long lost relatives at the family reunion snag you on the way by and say, 'I really like your stories. Have you written anything new?' Your parents start sharing links to old stories on Facebook and people comment on your writing like it's something to claim they've read. While doing dishes one night your aunt tells you she thinks you're a good writer and something inside you begins to cry, 'Uncle! Uncle!' You can't take it anymore. You simply have to write something.

So this is what you come up with: Hello world. I'm not dead. I'm here. I'm surviving. I missed you and not talking to you has just about killed me. I want you to know that Jack sometimes swears in his car seat, the girls are obsessed with cable and Jenny still can't walk on her ankle. My husband's rash has cleared up, I'm no longer running in cemeteries and currently I'm staying at the lake I grew up on. Life isn't perfect, but it's good. E.B. White once wrote, 'A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without ever putting a word on paper.' 

I'm done waiting. Aren't you?


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