Caro returns to writing after the holidays, and talks about getting started on her manuscript after a short break

Happy New Year and welcome to 2012!  I hope you all had a lovely festive season – I personally decided to celebrate by gorging myself on (delicious) stodgy foods and slipping into a two-week turkey coma. I’ve taken quite a lot of naps, watched a lot of DVDs and knitted half a stuffed English Bulldog. What I didn’t do over this work-free period, however, was write. At all.   Not one word.  All that free time and I don’t have so much as a terrible idea I’ve jotted on the back of a receipt to show for myself.

In the spirit of post-Christmas generosity, I can forgive myself that. Sometime we just need a break and often we need to be kind to ourselves – so I’m cutting myself a break and letting that time go.  But what’s proving harder to get over is the fact that while I’m gearing up again in other areas of my life, the writing situation is still a bit disgraceful.

It feels like I’ve ignored my novel and now it is cross with me.

It’s almost like losing touch with an old friend. To start with, you can’t quite remember whose turn it is to write or call… but over time you develop a terrible feeling it was you who dropped the ball. You really were planning on calling them one Sunday, but stuff got in the way and before you know it days, weeks, months slipped by and – oh dear – now you realise you forgot their birthday. Sure, you could certainly call them up now (and they’d probably be happy to hear you), but you just keep thinking about how calling them means acknowledging the awkward length of time since last contact.  So it’s easier to leave it. And the longer you leave it, the harder it gets to pick up the phone.  It’s not fear of your friend’s reaction that stops you – it’s your own guilt.

That’s how I feel every time I go to revisit my novel – and even though I know it’s silly, it’s proving a difficult obstacle to overcome. If you have any tips for reconnecting with your writing and characters I’d love to hear them – but in the meantime, I’m going to try telling myself that maybe if we could measure the value of rest and recuperation the way we measure productivity, we wouldn’t feel so bad about letting go and taking time for ourselves once in a while.

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