I just finished writing this month's newsletter. Here's a link for you to sign up, should you so desire. The newsletter used to be once a week, but that's a burnout pace after awhile. Once every month seems just right and I really look forward to writing it. The web goddess Nikki likes me to hit a deadline of seventy-two hours before publication, and I respect her so completely that I really try to stick with that. But this week got away from me. I'm late by two days.

Not that this is a good thing, mind you. Deadlines are deadlines. But in the six weeks since I took a self-imposed creative vacation since finishing work on the new Killing book, I had no desire to write at all. I was empty. Very little occurred to pull me out of the literary black hole that had consumed me — that is, until these last two days. Funny the way life works. These six weeks have been a time of immense satisfaction with coaching, as I've focused more completely on process than outcome. But every other aspect of my life has been a challenge. Not shit. Just challenge. My mom is dying, I feel horribly out of shape, contractual issues have made for interesting finances, and Callie and I are preparing for the college graduation of our youngest son — a sure sign that we have transitioned from the hands-on parenting phase of life into whatever lies beyond.

Normally, I'd write about all this. Not for public consumption, more for my journal. Helps me figure things out. But I made a vow not to write for awhile, a vow I had no trouble keeping because the creative well was dry. So I kept the challengers all bottled up, resorting to prayer now and then, but only in that horrible self-indulgent way we all pray when we are reluctant in asking God for a lifeline — lobbing frantic thought grenades, not taking the time to sit still and connect. I woke one night with an elephant sitting on my chest, denying I was in crisis. Calene was sleeping peacefully beside me. I tossed and turned for an hour, having those irrational 3 a.m. thoughts that lead to nowhere. Finally, unable to sleep, i reached over and put my hand on her shoulder. I did not want to wake her. I just needed to know she was there and physically feel her presence. Sometimes that calms me, but not on that night. It was another hour before I fell asleep, having spent all that time wondering what in the hell I was so worried about.

In the morning, I thought I'd try an experiment. Bear with me, but I did the most obvious thing in the world to change my mindset: I gave thanks. The barking dog? Thank you that Django is in my life. The traffic jam? Thank you that my car has air conditioning and a sound system, because years ago my cars had none. That unexpected tax bill? Well, a man can only take the thankfulness thing so far.

Something got freed up. I couldn't wait to break my fast, so to speak, and start writing again. What I couldn't do Tuesday, I can miraculously do today. So apologies to Nikki for missing my deadline, and a big wave of thanks for the desire to sit down and write again.