As noted elsewhere—I hauled ass like nobody’s business for eight months to create a way for me to write the novel I wanted to write without having to do it to anybody’s specifications but my own.
My mad plan worked, and for the first time since I was an RN, I had a regular, reasonable income that did not depend on me writing at a hard run in order to keep us all fed.
I got started on the Dreaming the Dead—the novel of my passion—and I was having a wonderful time with it, sitting down late at night every night and getting as many words as I got before I fell asleep. No pressure, no specific deadline (a vague one in the back of my mind only), and not even any dedication to the idea of writing to a market or marketing the book when it was done. I was writing for the sheer love of writing—to spend time with characters I could not find anywhere else, to explore a fascinating problem, to uncover mysteries and wonders.
Yes, I fully intended to send it to my agent. When it was done. When I was damn good and ready.
Brief aside here: You might have noticed, if you’ve been around here or in Think Sideways, that I … ah … am not a good relaxer. I am very good at deadlines, very good at pushing hard toward goals, very good at driving myself.
Taking my time? Taking it easy? Doing things just for fun? Not my best skill. I know this about me, but I sometimes forget it. End Brief Aside.
I forgot why I had worked so hard last year and part of this one. I forgot that THIS book was supposed to be special, different, NOT the same ferocious race to the finish line, doing the absolute best I could in the absolute least time humanly possible so that I could get paid and we could eat.
I forgot. And I set what seemed like a reasonable deadline for myself. 2000 words a day, more or less.
I also forgot that my life is different now. When writing fiction was all I had, writing fiction WAS all I had. I could put the rest of the world aside for long stretches and just push for the finish line.
I wrote, I got frustrated and guilty because I wasn’t getting other things done. When I got other things done, I got frustrated and guilty because I wasn’t writing. Over the last couple of days, I got hammered by headaches, stress, and guilt, my productivity on everything dropped to miserable levels, and I started hating life. In one week. From one change: the decision to write Dreaming the Dead to a “publish it” deadline.
I sat down this morning and took stock of what I have going on that is NOT the novel—stuff I love and am thrilled to be doing and want to complete.
The fact is, my life is full of cool and wonderful work. And writing fiction is the cool and wonderful play I had planned for the end of each day.
I need to get back to my original plan.