Saturday, August 06, 2011

Make Room and They Will Come

Sentences and dialogue swirled in my mind as I walked toward the front door and I refused to turn back and open the laptop or grab paper and pen. I knew what would happen the moment I sat down, the words would disappear and the dialogue turn trite as I struggled to remember the exact phrasing, the position of noun, verb, adjective, adverb, and connecting words. It happened the same way every time I sat on the porcelain throne or stood in the shower with my hands full of lather when I washed my hair. Everything came clear. The next scene, the next transition, the next everything, and all disappeared the moment I attempted to grab them from the ether and give them substance on screen or paper. It wasn't writer's block; there was no block, no impediment. It was as though it was leaking out and being funneled somewhere other than where I needed it to go.

That's the way it has been for the past few months and my latest book languishes for lack of words.

I finally managed to finish the last chapter I'd begun and I continue to soldier on, but it should not be this difficult. I should be able to sit down and put the words together as I'm doing now, and sometimes it is that way; most of the time the words elude me, playing hide and seek or catch as catch can when I need a rousing game of Rover, Rover, come on over, except with words.

If this is post publishing blues, it's the longest stretch I've endured to date. I began and finished the next book about a month after publication of my first solo novel. It took two years to edit and rewrite, but that's the way it is when anything is done by committee. I even took a few months off to let things rest and my temper to cool from all the helpful input I kept getting, none of which was helpful or input anything other than spleen and venom. How does one use too many verbs anyway?

As I tried to figure all this out the same way I've always done -- by writing things out in my paper journals (pen and paper have always been the best way for me to think) -- it all came clear, or at least as clear as anything does in my experience. I needed to stop worrying that what went onto the page had to be perfect the first time around. If I learned anything from my last novel, it is that sometimes it takes time to make a book, even one that is self-published. I'd have to struggle through the trite dialogue and lackluster descriptions and uninspired plotting and just get on with it. The book would be finished and the real work (editing, rewriting) could begin, but not until I actually finished the book. I'm still adding bits and bobs to the last novel, which is a lot easier since I can upload the latest version without going through a lot of red tape and hem-hawing about. I can't move on to the next book until this one is finished.

It's hard sometimes because I have so many responsibilities and so much to do, to carve out a few hours, or even one hour, of writing time, as evidenced by the lack of daily posts here and on other blogs. Everything seems to pile up until I am at the bottom of a tottering heap about to be crushed by the sheer weight of it all. Like housework and the laundry, I have to stop trying to do it all at once and be content to do what I can when I can. Work, unfortunately, is non-negotiable. I have no choice in when I have to do that, but there is a little latitude with my other responsibilities, like reviewing books. I need a break and so I shall take one after I finish the latest box of goodies to be read and reviewed. I'll take a month or two off and focus on finishing the current book and beginning the next one. Yeah, that'll work.

In the end, it is all about focus, concentrating fully on one task at a time, instead of trying to work it all in and giving short shrift to the task at hand, and I've been wasting so much time in being indecisive and avoidance. Time to reassess. That's what I'm doing now: reassessing.

I used to have time for writing, but I carried a much smaller load in those days, and picked up a lot of rejections. I don't need to worry about rejection as long as I'm self-publishing, but I do need to concentrate on quality and getting things done. Time to do another mental spring cleaning and get rid of all the time wasters and detours.

That's what I will be doing. Cross your fingers that I don't decide that posting isn't one of the things to go.

No, it will probably end up being useless things like men and dating and cooking. It's amazing what a variety of frozen and precooked meals are available these days. And there are always sandwiches.

The words will come if I give them space and concentrate. That is all that is necessary -- that the words come. Build it -- or in this case spread out and make room -- and they will come.

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