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Johns: A return to writing

During the 1560s, a word was developed, probably by a physician, meaning a break or opening. The Latin derivation means, “to gape” or “to yawn.” The word as we know it today is “hiatus.”

I have been on hiatus from writing for about a year and a half.

Interestingly enough, a typical hiatus lasts the same amount of time. Many artists, writers and musicians use that length of time to rejuvenate, let their creative juices begin to flow again.

This time allowed me to wake from the slumber of life and the deep cave of walking through the dark to finally see what I was supposed to see. To actually yawn and fill the gaping hole of life I had with some meaningful commodity.

My hours were filled with reading. Fiction books. Memoirs. Nonfiction. Stories that were told by people who had taken their own personal hiatus much like me. People who had suffered devastating losses. People who told stories of finding their silver linings in their churches, in the activities that they once loved but did not take time to enjoy them, in the glimmer of a child’s eye. The simplest of all things. Our personal commodities.

When I put down my pen, for I, like Wendell Berry, still write on a yellow or white legal pad with blue or black ink, the words had quit filling my head.

In bed, the words that l made into complete and sometimes complex thoughts, stopped.

I knew that I would write again, but there was a gaping hole in my heart.

The words were hidden away. A treasure trove of adjectives, lines from poetry, conversations that characters from books, movies and podcasts that I had written down were gathering dust on my bedside table. 

Grief shuts down your brain. Your body is on hiatus.

Your mind either races like you are a readying yourself for the Indy 500 or it trickles like the dripping faucet in your downstairs bathroom.

I have on many occasions compared grief to a feral cat that hides in the corners of your house waiting to pounce on you when you least expect it.

Finally though, in the midst of that closet of darkness, the strength comes to break the hiatus. 

Be gentle with me as I find the words that I am moved to say.

Be kind if I dangle a modifier or forget to add a word or two. For you see, I lost my editor a year and a half ago. I lost my muse. I lost the person who said that I needed to write. I lost my voice for awhile.

My husband is gone, but in the evening, I still hear him. In the quiet of the home that we made together, in the creaking of the stairs, in the robust laughter that is dulled, there is a voice.

The memory of his pride, the way he could give me the perfect word or sentence just when I needed it the most, is there. 

Little by little, my voice will come back and be heard again.

The hiatus is over. Time to get back to work. 

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist for downtown revitalization.