With editing Lock and Key, and then being hugely pregnant, and then the baby arriving and all the joy and chaos that followed, I haven’t done any writing in awhile. (And no, this blog doesn’t count at WRITING to me, although it does count in other ways, of course.) I mean like REAL writing, sitting with my laptop in a quiet place for a couple of hours and just losing myself in whatever is on the screen. Even as I write that last sentence, though, I think, yeah RIGHT. When am I ever going to have time to do THAT again?
But the thing is, I will. I’ll have regular babysitters M-F for a few hours each afternoon as of Jan 1, and that’s when I seriously need to Get Back To Work. I think that having this time off without even really having to THINK about writing has been good for me. Writing Lock and Key was really, really hard, mostly because I was crazy hormonal and very tired, and once it was done and edited, I was really relieved that I didn’t have to write again for awhile. In fact, there were some moments when I was so burned out on the very thought of starting another book that it seemed impossible. But my dad kept saying, “Just wait. You’ll get the itch again,” the way he always does, and sure enough…he was right.
It’s crept back slowly, and at the most unexpected times. Whereas last year at this time I was forcing myself to think about my plot and characters constantly, fretting and worrying over them nonstop, now it just comes naturally, in these little bursts while I’m driving, or changing a diaper, or just looking into Sasha’s eyes. I can feel the beginnings of a story coming together, tiny little threads, bit by bit, the way it used to before I got all crazy obsessive about it. When writing was organic and, yes, fun. Of course, all books are easy before you actually start (so much possibility!) but it’s nice to feel myself getting back into that mindset. Now I just have to, um, use those few weekday hours to actually put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). I hope my dad is right when he says I can do that, too.
One sign that the writing is creeping back is that I’m getting ideas for stories everywhere. Like for instance yesterday, at the mall, I kept seeing this older man at various stores I went into. At first he was chatting up this woman behind me in Banana Republic, telling her terrible jokes, and I assumed they were together, but then they left separately and I saw him later at Williams-Sonoma, telling jokes to one of the employees there. He wasn’t scary, just kind of…lonely, I guess. And there are a lot of people at the mall these days, if you’re needing company, or someone to talk to. Before I even realized it, though, I’d invented this whole life for him: the quiet of his kitchen, the ticking of his clock, the stories he has to tell, without anyone to listen. So he comes to the mall, and cobbles his stories together through person after person, as long as they’ll give him of their attention and companionship, even if it’s only a few seconds. And then he goes back home to that quiet house, again.
Of course, probably NONE of this is true. He’s a total stranger. But that’s where all the best stories begin with me, with someone or something I see, and then wonder about. It’s another good sign, I guess. Before writing was a job, it was a passion. Maybe it still is?