I spent all of last week writing. You may be saying, “Well, duh. That’s your job.” But here’s the thing. I turned in my last manuscript in early February and the revisions to that in early March, and since then, I’ve done next to nothing that could be called writing. Or at least fiction writing. I’ve written blogs here and there and even there, and copious emails to friends here and there and even there. I’ve written a gazillion tweets and some lengthy to-do lists. I’ve even jotted down character names and plot elements and thoughts on stories I didn’t know wanted to be told but apparently do.
But as far as writing anything new, uh-uh. Not so much. I was out of words. I was spent. In late April, however, knowing I wasn’t going to be able survive by sitting in the backyard reading, or boxing on Wii Fit, I revisited the proposal that got me my agent, but which I’d never developed for her to submit. I’d given her something else instead, while I finished up my contracted books. She read the submission, asked for a few tweaks, and I thought I’d get right on it. Er, I did get right on it – it just didn’t cooperate. I was still suffering the crash and burn of writing non-stop for almost ten years. I made my first sale in 1993, made a few more over the next seven years, but since selling the gIRL-gEAR series to Blaze in 2000, I haven’t had a minute off the hamster wheel of writing, revising, edits, galleys, writing, revising, edits, galleys.
That’s a hard schedule to keep. For me, anyway. And I haven’t had any of the external pressures others write through daily. Our last two kids moved out of the house in the same month, May 2006, and though the first one to move out in 1999 is now home again, my family hasn’t required a lot of “work” the last nine years. Any family is work, sure, but by 1999, my youngest was 15, the husband’s youngest 14, so we were beyond the school programs and well child check-ups and constant ferrying here and there. There was ferrying, but they did a lot of it themselves, or hitched with friends.
I worked full time half of those years, and we’ve suffered through several lay-offs, but we’ve had no major medical issues or other catastrophes to deal with. My busy overload was just from taking on too much, not wanting to eat Ramen the rest of my life, and hopefully get my kids through whatever community college or tech school (veterinary, nursing, etc.) they chose to attend. Plus, I had a driving need to keep my name out there. This is a brutal business, one not for sissies, and though it’s not a competition . . . it is. As far as the writing goes, we can only compete with ourselves. It’s the editors and readers who buy one thing over another that gives it the sense of being a competition. So, yeah, I took on a whole lot of work in order to compete, and melted in a big way. And this break has given me breathing room, time to remember what I loved about writing, and to feel good about creating. I am filled to bursting.
I’ve got all sorts of ideas swirling now, and I hope I’ve learned my lesson. A three month break isn’t exactly something I can schedule on a regular basis. What I do need to schedule on a regular basis is time for things totally unrelated to the industry. I forgot to do that for too long. When you chat all day with readers and authors and everything going into your head is about fiction writing and publishing, it’s tough to be present in the real world and be able to bring those experiences into your stories. I have learned this lesson well, and I won’t be making the same mistake again! Besides, I’ve got a tandem bike so I’ve always got the husband to kick my ass when I start slipping!