When I initially returned to the weekly blog, a principal part of the purpose was to encourage myself to keep writing, the theory being that if I could convince myself to commit to at least some kind of weekly output, it might well encourage an increase in output towards completion of the next novel and beyond.
For more than a year, I diligently completed the weekly column, documenting issues with which I was struggling in the creative process, sharing some successes when I would begin to see some increase in literary output (I know, I know, some critics, including my own inner critic would chafe at defining what I do with the term ‘literary’) and a host of other (mostly) writing-related topics. Some good ideas came from the columns too, not only from me but from some of the responses I received from readers (yes, there have been some).
And then I hit a dry spell of comparatively epic proportions.
It’s true what I assume they say (because I’m not sure I’ve ever really heard it said outside my own head): once you skip your routine once, it becomes much easier to do so again. And again. And again. And…well, you get the picture.
The weekly column was like a psychological commitment that once broken just became easier to break again. It took me over a year to break the spell but once I did it was like the little devil sitting on one shoulder just let me know it wasn’t so bad and it became easier to skip weeks every now and again. And just as I expected, it has had an impact on my written output elsewhere. To be fair, it could just be that I’m crazy – and I’m not yet willing to rule that out – but giving myself permission to stop writing the weekly column has translated to giving myself permission to stop writing, period.
And it’s been quite a dry spell.
I could come up with a litany of excuses…or reasons, I would prefer to more positively phrase them…for why I have hit such a resounding low in output. They would include things like:
I was busier and more stressed in the day job these past few months than I think I have ever been. Yes, I have now “officially” been on holidays for coming up two weeks but it really has taken this long for my mind to get free of that space, at least some of the time. Truth be told, I’m writing this column at three o’clock in the morning because my mind still won’t completely free itself of its day job obligations, though I would like to remind my mind that it’s supposed to be a day job, not a middle of the night job.
My second night job, going to school has involved more of my time and mental resources than previous classes have been as well. Admittedly, the actual workload paled in comparison to my most recent previous course but the subject matter so closely mirrored the work in my day to day work it added a degree of complexity to what I was studying.
There was the little matter of surgery. Yes, those who know me might rightly point out the surgery was on my ankle, a part of the body not generally utilized in producing written content. But pain is tiring. And while I’m up and about and have been for quite some time, there’s still physiotherapy and just being generally uncomfortable that have slowed down if not my ability to produce at least my will to do so.
Then there’s the epiphany.
Recently, it occurred to me that I’m behind on W3.doc. Okay, regular readers (you know you’re out there) will argue I’ve been saying that for a long time. But this epiphany recognized something of a milestone and it goes like this: when Deadly Lessons was published in late 2006, I was already well under way with the manuscript that would become Last Dance. So while the gap between publication of the two books was an unacceptable, really, five years, I submitted the first draft of the manuscript for Last Dance around about November of 2008, roughly two years after Deadly Lessons was published.
It has now been more than two and a half years since Last Dance was published and I have yet to complete the book, let alone do even a cursory edit before submitting a draft. And rather than spur me into action, this has frozen me on the spot, struck me with the fear that my publisher, already potentially not necessarily keen on continuing publishing my books, will determine the gap is too great and just drop me.
Fear is fun, isn’t it?
But I’m back. For now, I need to re-commit myself at a minimum to documenting this so-called creative process if only to hold myself to account. Feel free to nag me to account whenever the mood strikes you.
Next week: an update on some of the written work I’m doing.