Friday, February 22, 2013

Ebb and Flow

The other day, my husband commented that something was wrong with my blog feed. He hadn't seen a single update in his RSS reader in nearly six months.


No, honey. It's not your reader. It's not Blogger. Its the blogger. Its me.

Once upon a time I was full of writing advice and encouragement in the way that childless folk are full of parenting advice. I would see other writers--some multi-published authors, some just starting, like me, who complained about not getting the writing done. They blame it on the muse. On being sick. On being busy.

And I thought: Surely it's not that hard. Surely if you just keep writing, then, well, you won't ever get stuck and give it up. Surely these people are just lazy whiners.

And, like many previously childless folk who eventually have children, I did indeed discover that writing, like parenting, is not always straightforward. Writing doesn't always go "by the book".

I've got plenty of excuses. Plenty of rationales. Plenty people who regularly ask me "What are you working on?". Critique partners who ask, weekly, where my pages are. I am capable of setting measurable goals. I have a Dedicated Office Space (a very pretty one at that). And yet, I have accomplished very very little in over a year.

By "very little", I don't actually mean that I haven't written words. I have actually mostly finished a romantic suspense (The big bad guy has my hero and heroine at gunpoint right the end is in sight!). I have written a short story to tie into The Paris Affair (with no conflict, apparently, according to my critique partners). I have a fantasy novella that I am hemming and hawing over (do I try subbing it to one of many publishers and hope that an odd-length, sweet-romance, traditional fantasy story will intrigue someone, or make it my self-publishing trial run?).  I have ten pages of a sci-fi I've been kicking around for like five years, and a fairly fleshed-out plotline (well, fairly fleshed-out compared to my usual Dora-The-Explorer pantser plotting) for yet another sci-fi that I've also been kicking around forever.

I have written.

But I haven't really accomplished much. And I'm not writing regularly.

It's that last part that's the problem. I'm "writing" for about twenty minutes a week. If that. And sometimes "writing" means reading emails related to my writing, or, like I did this week, updating my website to add a buy link for Kobo. 

I know what happened. I had a few years of being absolutely driven to write. I won two NaNoWriMo's in a year, and got about halfway through two more.  I am sitting on two completed full-lenght manuscripts, my 95% one, my novella, and my short.  I queried, did the RWA contest thing, went to RWA nationals twice and pitched and subbed. I have a critique group. We met in person weekly for like two years and now meet weekly by Skype.

But at the same time, I have two kids and a full-time day job (a career-type job, not something to occupy lonely hours while the kids are at school--and its been a stressful few years at work). We moved, and subsequently owned and paid for two houses at the same time for fifteen months (more stress).

And I sold a book! (Well, sold the manuscript, and then sold, ahem, some number of e- and print-books). There were facebook ads and Google ads and a few blog posts. Social networking and Goodreads giveaways.

In short, I drove myself crazy and then needed a break.  Something had to give, and since I can't ship the kids away for a few months (LOL, tempting though it seems somedays...), and since I can't/won't give up the day job, then writing is what gives.

Am I done writing? Giving up? No.

Am I going to promise, here and now, to write every day? To write three manuscripts a year? To do something else huge and magnificent and inspiring? No.

I am not a balance kind of gal. I don't peanut-butter spread my activities. I can't sign up for writing 100 words, or 500 words, or even 50 every day. For me, the "balance" is more of an ebb and flow. At some points, I will get driven to write and pump out 25 or 50k in a month or two, with one or more stories running through my head as I drive in the car and as I fall asleep every night.  And at some points I will be driven at work and find the day job running through my head as I fall asleep. At some points I just need to tune out, read some books, watch some TV, play games with the kids, laugh with my husband, and accomplish very little. Eventually, all that mind-numbing will quit actually numbing my  mind and I will feel like I have to do something different.

The ebb will flow again. It always does.

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