by Annette Lyon
I'm getting seriously tired and cranky over here.
The past week or so has been spent proofing my galleys and working on a proposal for promoting my next book, a proposal I just gave to the marketing and PR people at my publisher. Oh, and I've kept up on my personal blog, sort of (doing scheduled posts because I knew I'd be struggling to find actual time to write them).
The business side. That's pretty much all the writing-related work I've done in the last week and a half.
And it's making me loopy.
I learned several years ago that if I don't get some actual creative writing in on a regular basis, then life falls apart at the seams. I'm seeing it yet again. Everything I'm doing is writing-related, but it's a step removed from the creative act. It's the logical, administrative side of things.
And as far as my inner writer is concerned, it doesn't count. And she's rebelling.
I first learned about this phenomenon nearly a decade ago at a time when I thought I was "too busy" to write. I had managed to get a few articles published, but that was it; I hadn't had any luck with fiction.
I had three little kids and a demanding job at church, among other things. I figured that when things calmed down a bit (whatever that means), I'd return to my writing.
So I took two months off. My life imploded.
Suddenly, no matter how hard I tried, I felt like I was on a hamster wheel, going nowhere. I had less time for my kids and my husband and my church job. The house was a bigger mess. The kids fought more and were generally more irritable. I was losing my mind.
Finally, in the middle of the cyclone, I threw caution to the wind and took about twenty minutes two days in a row to sit at the computer and write. That's less time than an episode of Sesame Street.
Can you guess what happened?
Yep. The cyclone calmed right down.
I learned right then and there that I can't put off writing until later, like I hear so many people say, especially the old excuse, "I'll do it when the kids are older." For my kids' sake, I'd better not stop. They deserve a mother who's not on the brink of a nervous breakdown, and writing is the way to keep their mother even-keeled.
Granted, there's a balance. Now that I have deadlines, book signings, conferences, and more, I have to be more careful with family and how much my writing intrudes. I can't just take twenty minutes here and there for my personal therapy (not if I want my editor to speak to me again, anyway).
Attending my critique group is the same thing. If I go too many weeks without it, I start resembling a crazy monkey clawing the walls. Once when I'd missed a few weeks, I said I'd better not go yet again, since we had a sick kid. My husband took me by the shoulders and nudged me toward the door.
"Go. Please. I need my wife back."
I'm there again, not feeling like myself. My husband could use his wife back again. My kids are probably wondering what happened to their mother.
I need to sit down and write a scene from my work in progress. I need that creative flow. I need to find me again.
Tonight, I'm going to my critique group. And tomorrow, you won't find me analyzing promotion ideas or worrying about the proof or thinking about press releases.
Instead, I will draft more of the novel I'm working on.
I'm going to love every minute of it.
And I have a suspicion that I'll find myself on the other side.