Slow Down & Smell the Bookprint

friends

I hold in my hands the official “proof” paperback copy of my novel! Last week, I triumphed over Kindle formatting (go me! I even got the Table of Contents up and working) and this week, I’m eyeballing the paperback before I give the go-ahead for it to go on sale at Amazon.com. It’s exciting! By next week, I’ll have a contest up and running so you can win one of three autographed paperback copies, but in the meantime, I get to sit and peruse it, read it one last time (I almost have it memorized)… and then move on to another project?

Creativity-wise, I’m pretty close to being tapped for awhile. A friend tried to tempt me with a role-play that had all kinds of insane potential and I looked at it and there wasn’t a creative thought in my head. I sometimes wonder if this is a symptom of depression or just exhaustion… technically, I’ve written and revised over 300 thousand words in the last nine weeks (I’ve completely rewritten two novels, and half-finished a nonfiction work). Yet, writing is such an integral part of my internal makeup that facing a blank page and having a blank mind to go with it creates a kind of emotional panic.

Something I’m slowly coming to learn is that writing can be as emotionally exhausting for an Introvert as spending time with people – because technically, not only are you spending hours upon hours with your characters, you’re also carrying all the dialogue! Imagine having a five hour conversation with yourself, in which you have to keep up momentum and guide it where it needs to go… through emotion, misunderstandings, and other turmoil. That would wear out any Introvert, right?

Part of me has another fiction novel in the planning stages… to the point where I wrote out an entire mind-map of the characters and events. Yet, when faced with a blank page, I can’t start it. I can’t get my mind in gear. Just thinking about all the research makes me want to crawl into a hole and die. This worried me for awhile, until I realized I’m tired… and I’m preoccupied. I’ve never been a multi-tasker, I choose one project and see it through to the end. Well, I’m in the middle of three massive writing projects at the moment (and that doesn’t even include four more issues of Femnista this year), so clearly my mind is screaming at me “stop! finish revising the other books first! then we’ll get to business and you can spend six months researching like you really love to do!” (I do thrive on research. I’m a dork like that.)

Minds like mine get cluttered… and until I put various projects behind me, I can’t move forward.

I think many of us are like that. We work fine with crossing things off lists as we get them done, but we constantly want to barge ahead of ourselves rather than finishing what we’ve started. Many of us have great ideas but not the mental energy to get to them, or unfinished projects sitting in boxes around the house. It’s good for us to focus, to have patience, to plan to write this or that in the future, but we need to also enjoy the moment, the process. That’s hard for me, since I’m always looking forward to the next thing.

So I’m going to slow down this weekend. I’m going to enjoy looking at my book, feeling the pages, being pleased with how the cover turned out. I’m not going to rush my read-through. Writing it was good. Being finished is good. But I also need to slow down and enjoy it.

19 Replies to “Slow Down & Smell the Bookprint”

  1. Congratulations on finishing your Book! I look forward to reading it. The problem you describe of going to project to project to project is one our gaming Group has.

    We are constantly switching rpg’s. Let’s do Star Wars, no Mutants & Masterminds, Pathfinder, No lets do Dresden Files.

    We really need to stick with one thing for a while, but we enjoy the variety

    Good Luck writing!

    1. Ahum, I also meant to say, very pretty picture on top of the post. Is it from a movie, or a photoshoot. I can’t think of a movie in which these four ladies all play.

      1. Thank you! It is pretty cool to hold a paperback copy of a book you wrote (it’s also cool to see it on Kindle… it makes it feel official somehow).

        This image is, I believe, from a Vogue Photo Shoot from 2008. 🙂

  2. “Yet, writing is such an integral part of my internal makeup that facing a blank page and having a blank mind to go with it creates a kind of emotional panic.”
    Me too, completely. Thankfully, it rarely happens to me, and it mainly does when I am mentally exhausted from other activities, like work. Being mentally exhausted is one of the most awful things I know.

    Interesting perspective, on having too much interaction with one’s own characters. I don’t think I’ve experienced that, though I do tend to have a writing limit of about two hours, after which I run down, like a clock.

    1. Much as I hate the fact that mental exhaustion sometimes happens to you… I’m relieved to know it’s not just me! In those occasional moments, I face a brief panic that wonders if I’ve broken my writing abilities and will be doomed to frustration for all eternity.

      What? I never said I wasn’t melodramatic. 😀

      Time-wise, it can fluctuate with me… I can spend hours upon hours working on something without feeling tired (and quit in a “happy” mood) or I can write for twenty minutes and need to stop.

      1. “Much as I hate the fact that mental exhaustion sometimes happens to you… I’m relieved to know it’s not just me!”
        Indeed. It’s more common now than it used to be, because my job involves up to three or four meetings a day with clients and programming team members, and frequently I get home and just want to sit and stare at the wall. I love writing at night, and sometimes I just can’t because my brain is so tired.

  3. Fabulous post, Charity.

    How true this all is – I mean, yes, we ALL do this. My “dorkiness” is making lists and then never crossing things off – and why, I don’t know since that’s, like the BEST part. I’ve got a list on my bedside table that I made when I got so far behind on reading. It’s just been sitting there since I wrote it out. Perhaps, I should cross out the books I made it through – duh! Like, that was the point. 😉

    Wait! You like researching things

    CONGRATS on your book – this is awesome, Charity. So proud of you and happy you made it through. Hang in there, your drive and creative mind will return, and that blank page will be a distant memory.

    1. Thank you!

      I like making lists — because you get the total satisfaction of crossing things off it! Plus, you won’t forget anything, which is always nice (particularly in “cleaning up the house for company” lists). But yeah, you totally need to cross off the books you’ve read. Otherwise you might look at that list and feel a tad bit… um… overwhelmed!

      I do like researching things. But researching things on top of doing three other things or five other time-consuming things overwhelms me. When I get overwhelmed, I crawl into a proverbial closet and hide.

      Thanks! I was so excited when it arrived last night, I carried it into the back 40 to show my dad. Hehe! Oh, gosh, I hope you’re right about the blank page phobia. I hate that, and being a super-driven person, I tend to fight against it until I drop from exhaustion instead of simply going “Okay, this too shall pass… eventually.”

    1. Thank you! If all goes well and I don’t find any typos (which would force me to wait another week for another proof!)… I should have the book live by the end of the month. 🙂

  4. …to the point where I wrote out an entire mind-map of the characters and events. Yet, when faced with a blank page, I can’t start it.

    This too shall pass.

    No, really, it well, you just need to put the idea aside, and allow it to ferment within you, then the day will come when you put pen to paper and the words flow effortlessly–

    For the first few pages 😉 Then you’ll get stuck again, but it’ll be much easier getting over it the next few times.

    Just thinking about all the research makes me want to crawl into a hole and die.

    What? You can’t do that! I mean, I reserved that hole months in advanced! Besides which, it’s so stuffed with copies and printed out articles, and notes and stacks of books from my own research that I don’t think either of us could get in! 😉

    Well, actually, I have no idea if this will horrify or reassure you, but as an extrovert, I actually find spending time with my characters to be more draining than real life people. Why? I have no idea–perhaps because we pour so much of ourselves into them? Because, unlike real-life acquaintances, we’re keenly aware of all their thoughts, fears, and suffering? Not to mention–we’re the ones inflicting that suffering?

    Awesome post, and truer words were rarely spoken, er–written, this is the reason why so many people never finish projects, no matter how badly they might want to, how many of us have a half-finished project somewhere in the house?

    1. I hope it passes. I really do. I’m sure it will, but the “in the meantime” sucks!

      … GET OUT OF MY HOBBIT HOLE RIGHT NOW! IT’S MINE! AND TAKE YOUR RESEARCH WITH YOU!

      😀

      Huh… no wonder God invented us and let us run around making our own decisions. Micro-managing the lives of people is not only a full-time job, it’s tiring! 😉

      Maybe that should be our goal for 2013 — either finish that half-finished product sitting around the house or THROW IT AWAY (or donate it, if it’s a cross-stitch or something).

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