Previously I posted something about how writing takes you away. Currently I’m also discovering that you can get taken away from your writing. I guess it all depends on the circumstances. Which leads me to some thoughts about what to do when life events push writing to the back burner.
Recently I lost a friend who was like family to pulmonary fibrosis. The last months were grim, watching her focus all her energy on getting enough air. Then a friend with whom I was considering retiring to someplace warm backed out of our plans, so I’m back to square one regarding where I want to spend my golden years. And then my business went into crisis mode, so that I have to scramble to pay my employees while I forgo getting paid myself. So it’s hard to get lost in the delightful, titillating world of Kirsten Maroney, my accidental sleuth. I’ve managed to get the first chapter done, but it’s choppy and doesn’t feel natural in the way the first two books in the series did. I’ve reread it several times, and I keep making changes to try to smooth it out. In the past, the rereading has been for grammar, syntax, spelling and word choice, not because the overall prose is faulty. So as I take a break I think about what my writing means to me and why I miss having it come naturally.
First, it occurs to me that choppy writing is better than no writing at all. It may not feel the same way it does on the good days, but it moves a book forward, no matter how much editing it will take to craft good prose. So today when I venture back into Kristen’s world, I’m going to really “rough draft it,” that is write as much as I can to move the story forward and edit later. Usually I edit as I go, and then go back and edit some more, but not today.
Second, it’s interesting to see the difference between narrative that I create when I’m lost in Kristen and what comes out when I feel distant from her. There may be something valuable in the latter mode. That is, I may be able to add it to my repertoire somehow. Maybe there are places where a distant look and feel are appropriate. Then again, maybe not, but it’s something to look at.
Finally, the time when my writing isn’t at its best allows me to focus on the other aspects of a writer’s life, like how to market and advertise my books. Learning about the latter is less intense than creating Kristen and it gives me the feeling that I’m moving forward with the business side of things.
So the lesson is: when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Use the anxious present in the ways that present themselves and just keep writing.