Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Nappy You Here--Part 2
I must have been brain dead when I made my resolutions last year.
Either that, or feeling mighty incompetent.
Probably the latter. After all, I was in the midst of writing Web of Lies, and the book was killin’ me. I never had a good day writing that story. Not one. Every day of the rewrite was just as bad.
(By the way, now that it’s all said and done—and Web of Lies is about to release in about two weeks—I think it’s a great story. I really, really like it. Just got a good review, too. Amazing. And when I was writing it, I was sure it would end my career.)
And so around the popping fire my family and I first reviewed last year’s resolutions, Mark reading The Paper pulled from the mantel. All of my family members did fairly well. They may not have hit every resolution, but everyone at least partially fulfilled their list.
Then it was my turn. Oh, joy.
Resolution #1: Finish two books.
Huh? Like I had a choice.
Then again, ditto paragraph three, above. Writing Web of Lies, I was probably quite convinced I’d kick the bucket before the book was done. Which wouldn’t have made the resolution so easy after all.
Resolution #2: Continue with daily devotions.
Huh? again. Why was I even doubting I’d do this? Devotions and praying the Psalms are what keeps me going.
And so I gave a hefty shrug. I’d fulfilled my resolutions, but hardly felt any pride in the fact. It was kind of like a nuclear physicist pledging to remember her multiplication tables.
Hey, well, be happy. Better than failing, right?
Next up—this year’s resolutions. Oookay, I was ready. I had some hefty plans this time.
Twenty-two-year-old son went first. Surprisingly, he couldn’t think of many goals to set.
Mom coulda supplied him with plenty.
But I had my own battles to fight. When it came my turn, I sat up straighter, folded my arms, and announced, “I have only one. I’m going to reconnect with the joy of writing.”
There. I’d said it.
See, I’d been doing some serious thinking during the holiday. I realized that I was currently in the midst of a real struggle to write Coral Moon, and not enjoying it in the least. Before that, I struggled to write Violet Dawn. Before that, I really struggled to write Web of Lies. And before that, Dead of Night.
Are you catchin’ a pattern here?
The reality of my situation hit me before we ever left California for the break. I wrote our annual Christmas letter in early December—and happened to look back in the file to our letter of 1996. As any of you who’s read this blog’s NES will know, in 1996 I was writing like mad, but was unpublished. But guess what? I loved writing. I talked in that Christmas letter of “riding the wind” with my characters—what an exhilaration it was to be caught up in their lives and troubles. How I sometimes chose to stay up all night because I couldn’t quit pounding the keys.
Truth is, once I started being published, that joy ended. Writing became a job. A deadlpressureine. An advance already half paid. A blank contract, with a major publisher perfectly certain that I could come up with a great story. And my constantly upgrading standards in what I allow myself to create. In other words—pressure.
Don’t get me wrong—I love being an author. I love the lifestyle, the friendships, the feel of a newly published book in my hands. I love everything about writing—marketing my books, teaching the craft. I just didn’t like the writing part. And after feeling crummy about this issue for a number of years, finally during this Christmas season, I decided I’d had it. In the proverbial phrase, I wasn’t going to take it anymore.
But guess what—you don’t just decide to be happy about something. And I knew the pressures on me weren’t going to change. So how to take this here resolution bull by the horns—and make it work?
I had a plan.