At the end of August, I decided it was time to start my next book. It had been a few months since Saint Anything came out, and the promotion side of things was winding down. Moreover, it had been a year and a half since I finished writing that book. Normally, I would have started a new project somewhere in that 18 months, worked myself into a fit when it wasn’t working, and abandon it. I know my history and my cycles. So I decided I would Wait Until I Was Ready.But then, my kid went back to school. The summer ended. Everywhere around me there were fresh starts, sharpened pencils and empty, brand new notebooks. It felt like the whole world was writing, except for me. (By The Whole World, I mean everyone I follow on Twitter. The hashtag #amwriting is a powerful thing, especially when you, um, aren’t.) I had a nugget of an idea that I thought I could stretch into my skeleton (first line, first scene, climactic scene, final scene). I was ready. Right?I knew I was doomed the moment I tried to start the second scene, around page 3. I just felt tired. Was already dreading having to do backstory. Writing the simplest of sentences was like trying to brain surgery. Blindfolded. UGH. UGH. There are not enough UGHS to convey this feeling. You’ll just have to take my word for it.I have been here before. I was here with the book I set aside before I wrote Saint Anything. It is very familiar, in the way that places you dislike and dread can be. But the upside is that when I find myself back here, the landmarks becoming familiar, I have FINALLY learned to stop, turn around and get out. This is progress. I used to finish books that weren’t working, then send them to my agent, who would tell me what I already knew in my heart and had for awhile (”This is not your next book. I’m sorry.”). That’s a lot of time wasted, a lot of miserable days. The older I get, the less I enjoy being miserable. Better to accept things aren’t working on page 15, as I did yesterday, than on page 415.
So here I am. #notwriting. UGH. But honestly, I feel a sense of weird relief, as well. I don’t have to sit down and suffer today: I just don’t. I’ve published 12 books, and the most recent one, I think, is one of my best. If it’s the laurels I’m resting on for awhile, I’m okay with that. I hope my readers are, as well. Hopefully the right idea will come, and I’ll know the moment to begin it. For now, though, this is where I am. And I just don’t want to be sad every afternoon anymore.
(Note: it should be said that writing this little blog post, these few paragraphs, flowed more easily than anything I’d done on that book. Pretty telling…..)