Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where'd I Go?

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.


Satima Flavell said...

Annette, your post and Julie's last one have convinced me that I should be writing again, too. Thank you both:-)

Julie Wright said...

Satima, you have a beautiful name. I likely have already told you that, but I was just thinking it again.

Annette, I am the exact same way. I've been reading a ton due to the whitney awards coming up and I left my WIP on a backburner. I've gone insane and last night rebelled. I wrote a thousand words and felt like I was breathing again. Today was a much better day. Good luck finding you.

Bryan said...

Dear Annette,

This post reminded me of a book that I've been on and off reading the last few months.

In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, he divides tasks into four categories. Quadrant II is the section that deals with things that are not urgent but they are important. He believes this is the most important quadrant for building up your life.

Writing for you, at this point, when you have so many "urgent" and "important" tasks to do business-wise, falls into that Quadrant II category. It's important to focus on Quadrant II activities as much as possible.

Maybe there is a way to delegate out some of those business tasks. Getting someone to do it just 3 to 5 hours a week, so that you can sit down and write during that time. You love writing and it helps your mind and your life. You should make sure that there is time for it every week if not every day! :)


Becky said...

So that's my problem! I haven't written anything in over a wonder I'm so crabby and my kids have gone crazy. They need their mom back.

Here I go--no more internet until I've finished a chapter. No email? What a punishment. :)

Thanks for the reminder to take care of my sanity.

Annette Lyon said...

Bryan, Great point. I hadn't ever heard of it put that way.

Heather B. Moore said...

Me too! I haven't written anything "new" since November. It's about killing me!

I've been taking my laptop when my daughter is at her 2 hour volleyball practice. It's amazing how much editing I can get done with not internet connection.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I'm still battling writers block.

I would love to be in your position of dealing with rewrites, editors etc.

Still, I think it's true of anything we love. If we don't get to do it, then other people feel the results.

Heather B. Moore said...

Anna, a member of my critique group just brought first chapters for awhile--waiting for one to stick.

Janette Rallison said...

I'm the same way. I somehow don't feel like I've accomplished anything at the end of the day if I haven't written.

Satima Flavell said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog, guys. Julie, did I tell you I got the name Satima when I was living in a Buddhist monastery in Massachusetts? It means "mindful" - ha, what a joke. Something to work on, maybe:-)

And thanks for the inspirational posts, all of you.