Sometimes when I’m writing, I think about taking a break from the process.
I’m thinking about that now, thinking, when I finish the first draft of this quadrilogy, I might take a break.
Yes, I’m almost at the end, and I’m tired of writing it, so it’s natural to think, I want a break. Focusing on the moving parts and the characters’ activities is intense and takes intellectual energy that straps my other energies.
Then, I realize, yes, I’m tired of writing that series, a series I’ve been working on since July of 2016. Not long, you say? Yes, but this is the first draft, and there’s work to be done on other projects. I deliberately choose not to work on other writing projects to focus on the complexity. I want to write them.
Then there’s the madness.
The madness is the standard writer’s angst about what has been done and what remains against the filter of, does this fucking work? Will others read it and think, “This guy is an idiot.” Worse, they’ll say, “He’s a talentless, pathetic hack.”
These words, coming through me from imaginary others, are wearying. I combat them by assuring myself that I don’t know if that’s how others will react, and reflect on why they might think that way – what makes me worry that they might think that way.
It’s complicated, this writing business, done alone in shadows. Sometimes the shadows grab us, and tear us down.
But then, in saner, stiller moments, I read what I’ve written, and find myself engrossed by it, and pleased. Then I encourage myself, “There’s probably other nuts out there who like the kind of fiction you write because they share your taste in fiction.”
I hope to hell that’s true, I answer myself, but I don’t really sound convinced. I sound more like a person who left a job interview and answers, “How did it go?” with, “I think it went pretty good.”
Others will say, “Wow, you wrote a book. You wrote four books in that time, four books as part of one series? That’s amazing. Congratulate yourself.”
Well, yeah, that’s all nice, thanks. But that’s like getting to the Olympics and not winning a medal. See, a goal has been set. It’s not enough to write a draft, but to get it edited, published, and out there, and then have others read it, and enjoy it.
That’s the Olympic gold.
Yes, I can settle for less, but why limit myself? I’m putting time and energy into writing these novels. Yes, I’m afraid that others will not like many aspects of it, but there’s no reason for me not believe that I can’t take home the gold. Dare to dream, right? Put that dream out there in front of you, and try.
Others will say, “Hey, that’s beyond your control. You’re putting needless pressure on yourself.”
Yes, I tend to be my worst critic, that I know. (Maybe others are staying politely quiet.) I know my flaws, shortcomings, failures, and mistakes, and can rip them off without a breath to think. Plus, you know, I’m a little down with health issues affecting friends and family. That is another variable in the equation.
I’d been writing like crazy for seventy-five minutes before taking this break to gain some distance, perspective and sanity. I’m hungry, and I’m thinking about sandwiches, and pie. I’ve only drunk about twenty percent of my cup of coffee, having put my head down and fingers to the keyboard. Stop, or go on? I ponder, decreasing the amount of remaining coffee by another twenty percent.
My stomach wins. It always does.
It always gets the gold.