Mondays are hard. All weekend you’ve been doing laundry, taking family bike rides, reading the Times in bits and pieces, going to your kids’ soccer games, and then it’s Monday morning and they’re all out the door (except the dog, who is lying on your feet), and it’s hard to know where to begin, how to pick up where you left off.
When I was growing up in Maine, my professor parents bought an A-frame on a tiny island on a lake. The house had no electricity or heat, and a red-handled pump was our only source of drinking water. When we arrived on the island (having paddled over from the mainland in our evergreen Old Town canoe), we had to prime the pump with lake water to get it started. One of my sisters poured the water into the top while another pumped. The well water took a while to emerge, and then it was cloudy, rust-colored, for at least a minute or two before running clear.
This reminds me of my own writing on Monday mornings – or anytime I’ve taken a substantial break from it. As with the pump, I’ve learned to prime my writing. I might read a chapter or two of a book on my nightstand, or perhaps turn to one of my ‘touchstones’ – those dog-eared, broken-spined, oft-read volumes I’ve defaced with marginalia and underlinings, and which I know I can count on for inspiration. (I’ve talked about some of those books here and here.)
Then I start to write, knowing that it may take some time to reach the deep, cold source of inspiration, but trusting that sooner or later my words will run clear.