Last week when starting my latest manuscript, I felt a bit blah. For a day I wondered, ‘What in the heck have I done?’
The next day, well, sometimes it just takes a good night’s sleep. I was off to the races, and after another chapter added yesterday, man oh man, I am loving this new novel.
But in those few hours of hesitation, I considered earlier days, other first drafts, my start. Or a year or so into my start; in July 2008, I was writing a novel that I might one day get back to, but at the time, Detours was a story I just had to tell. I wasn’t thinking about publishing in an overt way, and certainly not indie publishing. I was just writing for the sheer flippin’ joy of it.
Okay, well, maybe I was thinking a little about publishing.
But it’s different now, knowing anything I write I can, with some or much work, whip into shape and upload into cyberspace. And having said that, not everything I’ve written since deciding to go indie will be released. Case in point; of my two novels from last year’s NaNo, one will never be published. The other sits unfinished, with no date on the horizon for its completion. The WIP feels like a future release, but maybe not. Those considerations now hover over every book I write. In 2008, it wasn’t that way.
In 2008, I was still trying to acclimate to living in America after eleven years of Britain. I was getting used to two kids not living at home, one still in high school, but not schooling any of them myself. I was wrapping my head around constant sunshine and Silicon Valley and not being able to buy decent tea when I went grocery shopping. And, believe it or not, writing novels.
In July 2008, I was so much of a newbie, it’s not even funny. But, and this is imperative, I was writing.
I was so involved in the writing that at the end of July, determined to finish Detours by the end of that month, I wrote 19,000 words in one day. I will never forget it, especially that part was spent clearing out enough typing errors so I could return to the document. Word didn’t like all my red and green squiggles, and I lost valuable writing time sorting that issue. But late into the evening, after barely seeing my family all day, I wrote the last sentence; It’s all right. I sat back, looking to night through mostly closed mini-blinds, and heaved a sigh of tremendous relief. In those days, that’s what the writing was, an enormous relief.
It was also a mess, but that’s expected. Some of my novels have ended with that much emotion, although never that many words in one twenty-four hour period. At the end of Oklahoma, I started crying, my husband at his computer two feet away bringing me into his arms. Some books stir a breakdown, and it doesn’t matter what happens to them except that they are expunged.
I have to admit I have lost some of that deep sense of relief. Maybe it’s not lost, but it’s certainly diminished. Maybe part of it was simply the wonder of finally writing fiction. I had wanted to write for so many years, and here I was, back in California, doing just that! I call writing the work, my job, and it is, but perhaps that tarnishes it in some way. It’s also a thrill, a gift, another part of why I breathe.
It’s also work. And sometimes work is not fun.
Publishing is cool. Writing is too, at times. Then sometimes I wonder what’s the purpose? Then I start a book, and really wonder what in the hey am I doing? Why did I think this idea needed to be set onto a document? I just pulled this story outta my backside, blah blah blah.
Then I wake up, shower, eat Grape Nuts, drink tea, read over yesterday’s chapter and think, ‘Oh yeah! I wanna say this and this and that over there and…’ And I’m back in business. I’m back to that day in July 2008 when I could write 19K like it was nothing.
Except that now I manage about 3K. 19,000 words would probably kill me.
But now I’m not only writing. I’m publishing, and that’s another kettle of fish. I had hoped to publish, way back in 2008, but the writing had to come center stage. One stage at a time, and as stages come and go, I as a writer have evolved. Writing 19k probably would set me back, no doubt. I’m five years older, and it makes a difference now that fifty is three years away. (Yes, a slight shudder engulfed me while writing that.) But that seasoning has taught me that pacing myself isn’t a bad thing. That every novel I have ever written doesn’t need to be for public consumption, even the ones I create now. That hope is necessary, or nothing gets accomplished. If I had never pined over this dream, I wouldn’t be writing this post today.
Today’s reality is that in another hour or so, I’ll pull up the WIP, read over yesterday’s work, and maybe tinker with it a little. I wrote a HUGE info dump yesterday, which was GREAT, because this novel, while possessing a firm beginning, middle, and end, has plot holes the size of Lake Michigan. But yesterday, ah yesterday… Yesterday I came up with all sorts of gemstones, yet they can’t all be plopped into one chapter. And that is part of the bliss, also part of the work. The hope is by the end, all those gold nuggets will be scattered just so, thus providing another novel in the publishing queue.
The reality is that I don’t know this novel’s fate, yet. Each day the mystery unfolds, like a good book. Gleefully considering the options, what will I write about today?