How Isaac Asimov made me feel better about my current hiatus from fiction-writing

Taking a break from fiction-writing was a particularly difficult decision for me. But I was getting burned out. Life was intruding and something had to give. Once I made the decision, I felt pretty good about it, but in the back of my mind, it still bugged me a little. “I should be writing,” I’d tell myself. “That’s what my heroes would have done.” But it turns out that is not entirely true. While walked to the grocery store, I recalled a passage from Isaac Asimov’s autobiography that described something similar. The year was 1942. Asimov was 22 years old, was working on an advanced degree, had already published some of his robot stories, as well as classics like “Nightfall” and “Foundation.” And he was about to move to Philadelphia to work at the Navy Yard with Robert Heinlein and L. Sprague de Camp as part of the war effort. He ended up on a routine of visiting New York regularly during his stay in Philly. This was happening around May 1942. He wrote:

It was a dreadful routine, but I kept it up for week after week. Because I was in New York only for the twenty-four-hour period centered about Saturday night I could never see Campbell, but that didn’t matter. I didn’t want to see anybody but Gertrude, and writing, which had been at a halt since February, continued to be nonexistent.

I was under the impression, after all, that the purpose of my writing had been to pay my way through school. Now there was no school to be paid. Indeed, the work I was doing was paying me. Why should I write, therefore? I even stopped reading science-fiction magazines, for the first time in thirteen years (I think because reading science fiction magazines activated guilt feelings over my failure to write it.)

It wasn’t until January of 1943 that Asimov tried his hand at writing again.

Recalling and re-reading this made me feel better because it showed me that everyone needs a break at times, at that even as big a science fiction star (and one so prolific) as my idol, Isaac Asimov, needed them, too. Life intrudes on everyone. His break didn’t seem to stop his writing career. Indeed, when he came back to writing in January 1943, he was even more successful than before.

I’ll go with that assumption.


  1. Atta boy, Mr. Rubin. While I am personally sad that your fiction will be absent for a while, your courage and perseverance make me smile. It’s your life; live it as you see fit.


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