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Monday, April 29, 2013

A writer writes....when?

"A writer writes."

Except when she's doing her day job.

Thus begins the time of year when I struggle with feelings of inadequacy (a writer writes! Why aren't I writing?) as days pass and all I've accomplished is a few notes jotted regarding a scene I am thinking of revising in my next book, CHOICE.*

To be sure, it's not like I'm a stranger to the keyboard. I've spent the past month or so working on copy for our website -- we just launched a new and improved version, and we're very proud of it. It's marketing copy, the flow and purpose of which comes back to me from my previous life pre-A Butler's Manor. It's still crafting words, finding the feel. But it's not "writing." Or is it?

The issue is, as usual, me. The perfectionist in me that somehow thinks that I can accomplish two things at the same time, both at 100% of my energy. And of course I can't.

But the "shoulds" still hover in the back of my mind...and continue into my dreams, where characters visit and yet refuse to talk about anything except the present.

"Tell me where you've been," I beg.

They just smile complacently."Follow me, and you'll know."

When can I follow them? And being able to do little more than jot those notes, will I  lose the story they know I can tell?

A few years ago I told myself I would put aside my dreams of writing novels until I again had the regular time to devote to it. So for a couple of years, I didn't write, other than in my journal. But then the stories started coming back. In snatches. In dreams. In the odd quiet moment. Maybe I had time to draft a quick scene, or fill in details of an outline of a story line. But that's all, until the winter, when we take a hiatus from the bed and breakfast.

But...a writer writes, right? No excuses? How many stories have we all read about people who managed to eke out an extra hour in their day in order to get their story on paper? I recently read how Stephenie Meyers wrote the first of the Twilight series in three months when her children were small. If a young mother can write a book in between potty training and swim lessons, and do so in that short a period, why can't I summon the energy to carve out my own writing time?

I know, it isn't about comparisons; for every story like that of Stephenie Meyers, there is another about an author who took years to finish a novel. It took Jeffrey Eugenides nine years to complete Middlesex, a book I found phenomenal. And truthfully, it took me about three years to write, rewrite (and rewrite and rewrite) Blood Exposure until I had a draft polished enough to query agents with (and another year-plus to interest one). And that's pre-B&B, when in theory I had all the time in the world to write.

I need to stop comparing myself to others; stop allowing the "shoulds" to invade my psyche. I went searching for wisdom online today and this is what I found:

"A novel will take as long as it needs. Give it room and keep writing."

Whenever I can. I can only trust that the story will wait until I can tell it.


* CHOICE is the story of a woman who struggles with whether or not to fulfill a promise she made to reveal to her daughter her true parentage after her birth father dies unexpectedly. Staying silent allows her to keep her comfortable status quo, she thinks...until that status quo is turned on its end.

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