Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

And still another wall (and still not THAT one)

I thought I would be done.

When I posted last week, I thought I would be done by now. My brief wall notwithstanding, I was pretty certain I would put a bow on it and be finished by the time this post rolled around. I was wrong. You see, I hit another wall.

After finishing my post last week, I had to work despite the holiday, co-leading a snowshoe walk at a state park in the afternoon. It was cold, in the upper teens, and though it wasn’t windy, there was enough of a breeze that, when we stopped in an open area, you could really feel the breeze cutting in. Still, everyone seemed to enjoy it. That night, I managed to work through about eight manuscript pages, crossed the 300-page mark. At the end of the evening, I had under 90 pages remaining.

I made the mistake, perhaps, of staying up to watch the Bruins on Monday. They were in the midst of a 5-game road trip and played in San Jose, 10pm start. The wild game (a Bruins 6-5 overtime win) ended around 1am, leaving me with five-ish hours of sleep before going in to work the next day. In general, I am not one who believes that being cold and/or tired makes you sick–germs make you sick. Viruses make you sick. On the other hand, perhaps cold and tired can suppress your immune system and help you get sick. It certainly seems possible. It might explain what happened next.

On Tuesday night, after work, after dinner, I sat down, opened the manuscript, and…nothing. I picked at a paragraph, rearranged a couple of sentences, felt so tired I could not concentrate at all. Unlike the previous week, this was not a case of me being befuddled by what I had written. I literally could not summon the energy to think properly about what I was looking at. For the first time in I don’t know how long, I went to bed before 11pm. Theoretically rested, I went to work the next day. By afternoon, my throat was sore, my back was sore, and I had to face the facts: I was sick. No Bruins for me on Wednesday (another late game, this one in Vegas), no editing work, no nothing. I might have actually been in bed before ten that night, I don’t remember.

I stayed home on Thursday. While a sick day can sometimes be an opportunity to make some progress, I didn’t even bother. Sometimes, the body knows best.

The good news for me is that I recovered fairly fast. On Friday I was back at work–both the job and the manuscript. And over the weekend, I steamed through the manuscript. Last night, though I tried to make the last push to finish, I had to call it a night, just 14 pages short of the end. Tantalizingly close.

It’s important to listen to your body. As much as we want to push on, there are times when the thing to do is to shut it down, give in, and get some rest. There will be another day.


Love this song. The chorus kind of sums up how I felt in the middle of this week!

2 Responses

  1. This time of the year seems the perfect recipe for getting sick. Up and down temps. Snow, rain, whatever. It sucks. Glad you're on the mend and you're able to get back to your story.

  2. I ended up having a sort of setback in the middle of this week, too, but maybe that was something I ate, as my wife had the same exact symptoms at pretty much the same exact time. Here's hoping illness is past us all!

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