Monday, July 11, 2011

When You Can't Write, Read

Pamela June Kimmell has attended nearly every Book ‘Em event in Virginia since the first one was held in 2004. Currently living, writing, and painting in Warrenton, Virginia, she has appeared in Lumberton, North Carolina during the Writer's Rally in Robeson series of visiting authors, and she is looking forward to Lumberton’s inaugural Book 'Em event.  In addition to her novel “The Mystery of David’s Bridge”, she co-authored “Pink Jasper:Gems From The Journey” with five other women writers, and edited a poetry anthology called “Cosmic Brownies”.  Her self-illustrated book of childrens short stories will be published in time for Book ‘Em.  She has been the fiction editor for an ezine, is a prolific poet, and has her own line of note cards depicting images of her oil paintings and photographs.

As a writer and artist I have always been aware that moments of writer’s block (or artist’s block) happen to all of us.  Sometimes it lasts just a day but sometimes it lasts a whole lot longer! 

Recurrent melanoma and the resulting one year of immunotherapy via infusion and self-injection wreaked havoc on the creative side of my brain…..I just did not feel like doing anything, much less finishing the sequel to the mystery novel I’d had published in 2006.  I couldn’t even pick up a pencil and sketch or write the shortest of poems.  The “light” was out and I was too sick to even imagine it ever coming back on. 

Instead, I read.  I read everything I could put my hands on.  It took me away from my discomfort and transported me to all kinds of fantastic places.  I’d always been an avid reader of mysteries, suspense and thrillers, but I branched out and read non-fiction and genres I’d never been interested in before.  It was the greatest escapism. 

One important thing taking this “time out” did was buy my brain some time to absorb other people’s ideas for plots and storytelling and in doing so, my own creative process turned back on…..slowly at first but at least the light did return. 

I think people who have experienced similar circumstances in their lives understand that many times they change us permanently.  I know in my case I did change in some ways, but thankfully the desire to write didn’t disappear - it just took a hiatus.  I am writing again and doing some illustrating but to a big extent, I feel I owe my return to those things to my love of reading - one thing that never stopped even though almost everything else in my life at that time had stopped.

It’s all about having faith, hope and persistence!  I will get that sequel to The Mystery of David’s Bridge written although it will be a stand-alone rather than an actual sequel.  I am about to have a book of childrens short stories published which I have illustrated myself, and I intend to dust off an old manuscript I’d set aside years ago and get it finished and published.  Not only did I turn back on the light - I just might be on fire!