I've got a WIP that's been a WIP for a long time. In fact, me and this book go way back. Way, way back. It's been simmering in my subconscious since childhood, and I wrote a few cautious words more than ten years ago. In the years since, I collected newspaper clippings, random thoughts, illustrations, photos, and ephemera that I knew were somehow part of this story, but I wasn't sure how and why or what was going on. Yet. Then two years ago, I wrote a lot of it. A couple of hundred pages and it was getting closer to having a shape and a form and a feeling and I was glad to be knitting all of these threads together in a fair-isle story full of color and complexity. But I knew it needed work. It just wasn't right. There were loose threads and dropped stitches. And I played with it and worried it and frogged it and got angry at it for not being what I wanted it to be. I wondered if I could really make it what I wanted it to be.
Then last Spring, I took a break from it. I put it away, and decided that I knew that I would write it someday; I wasn't giving up, but getting it right meant stepping far, far away to contemplate what was deeply, utterly wrong. In my favourite of C.S. Lewis' books, Till We Have Faces, the main character writes
"Often when he was teaching me to write in Greek the Fox would say, 'Child, to say the very thing you really mean, the whole of it, nothing more or less or other than what you really mean; that's the whole art and joy of words.' A glib saying. When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you'll not talk about joy of words."
It has not always been joyful, this break. But all of the things that it has been -- all of the things that my life has been -- have made the story richer and wider and deeper and more true. And now, after almost a year, I'm ready to dig back into it. To examine what's been simmering, and taste and see what's good. I may not make it what it should be. But I will be closer. It was a long break. And a good one.