Today, I’m re-posting something from the time when I was writing The Nothing. Those were hard writing times, but I’ve been through a similar process with nearly every book. I’m posting this partly as a reminder to myself to slow down and enjoy the writing journey. And I’m posting it partly because I’m a super-slacker with the brain of a sieve, and totally forgot that it was my day to post! (It’s my birthday, but I don’t think that’s a real excuse.)
Are We There Yet?
Recently I went through a spell where writing was about as much fun as going to the dentist. Now, maybe you are a twisted type who actually enjoys going to the dentist. The sound of the drill, the injection of novocaine and the resulting dead lip, that smell…
As for me, when the topic of dentistry comes up, I shudder. The thought of a filling makes me cry. Even a simple cleaning sets me off.
So basically, what I’m telling you here is that the writing was not going well. I found myself avoiding it in all sorts of creative ways. Like cleaning, for example. I’m just marginally more fond of vacuuming than I am of dentistry, although I engage in it a little more often. When I did finally maneuver my butt into the chair I would find myself falling asleep. No amount of coffee or snacking or napping changed this. I’d sit down to write and my eyes would drift shut. My fingers would descend on the keyboard, unguided. And then my head would jerk, my eyes would open, I’d type a couple of words and off to sleep I’d go again. This activity being pointless, I’d give it all up and take to the couch where I could sleep in peace. And then go to bed, only to wake up and try again.
This block was making me a little crazy. There are all sorts of reasons to be excited about the project. I’m working on The Nothing, the last book of the Between trilogy. It’s going to be an indie book this time. I love it, I love the editors who are going to help me make it beautiful, I love the cover. But I was hopelessly and horribly blocked. My self imposed deadline vanished into the past and I set another one, only to see it do the same thing.
All I wanted was to be done with the damned book so I could move on.
And that, right there, was the problem. I was so focused on the destination that I couldn’t appreciate the journey.
I have two ways of approaching a car trip. One is all about the experience. I pack up snacks, load up the tunes, and set off on an adventure. I’m happy to just chill, watch the scenery go by, and enjoy the trip. I’ll get there when I get there. The miles zip by happily and this is a pleasant experience.
The other version is not so fun. On these occasions, I just want to get where I’m going. And it takes forever to get there. Each mile is interminable. The car seat is uncomfortable. I’m bored. I have trouble staying awake. There are so many other things I want to be doing and I Just. Can’t. Wait. To get there.
So I had to remind myself of what I’ve learned before. Each book is a journey. Each book brings with it the temptation to fall into an Are We There Yet? frame of mind, like a bored toddler on a road trip. Writing is meaningful and rewarding when I’m in it for the story, and not for the end game.
Things are better now. I’m back to immersing myself in the words and characters and it feels good.
The end of this journey is still around a corner and up a hill and I have a sneaking suspicion there might be some road construction along the way. But that’s all right. I’ll get there when I get there and that’s okay with me.