Tag Archives: second novel

No Rush

12 Jan

I’m not writing lately. Well, I’m writing right now, but it’s not the kind where you shut yourself up in a room and write for so long that your shoulders hurt. I used to do that. Before the pandemic hit, I did it so much that I actually finished a novel. It’s been almost three years since my pub date (that’s legit industry lingo in case you’re interested) before everything stopped in its tracks before it got started.

Mind you, I’m not complaining here. My little book has actually done pretty well for a first time author, and is still selling consistently. I’m merely trying to explain how the pandemic and it’s after affects have kept me in a sort of limbo where I can’t seem to move on. I’m still so distracted that I longer have the focus and determination I once had. Where I used to be able to set goals, my brain now meanders around with no organization or end game in sight.

I have oodles of ideas swimming around in my head for a new novel, as well as several developing characters who speak to me often. I try my damnedest to ignore them, but they poke me in the ribs as I play that final Words with Friends game before I fall off to sleep. They’re there in the morning as I groggily drink my coffee, urging me to head upstairs to my computer and write something about them.

“Tell our story!” they scream.

I try to appease them. “Just give me one sec—I swear I’ll write something. I’m going to have another cup of coffee and then I promise—I’ll write about you. But first I need to check my phone.”

A three-mile walk, a trip to the grocery store, lunch with a friend, followed by five hours of teaching piano lessons, and the day has eroded like the southern California coastline.

Not a single word written.

Intellectually, I know that all writers go through dry spells—most are honest about this common dilemma and are able to offer themselves some grace. Unfortunately, I carry a familial genetic marker that makes me repeat to myself the ridiculous lie that I’m a worthless loser. I feel such pressure to prove that I can write another book—that I’m not a one-trick pony.

For once I’m pleased that I have age on my side, and the wisdom to know that I can and will get through this slump. And lucky for me, those friends in my head who want to come to life will not leave me alone until I give them their rightful spot on the page.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh said it well:

“In general, I feel, or I have come to feel, that the richest writing comes not from the people who dedicate themselves to writing alone. I know this is contradicted again and again but I continue to feel it. They don’t, of course, write as much, or as fast, but I think it is riper and more satisfying when it does come. One of the difficulties of writing or doing any kind of creative work in America seems to me to be that we put such stress on production and material results. We put a time pressure and a mass pressure on creative work which are meaningless and infantile in that field.”

Breathe, Jess. There’s no damn rush.

Liar, Liar

11 Feb

img_0434Writing is not fun. The people who tell you, Oh, I love to write so much that wish I could spend all day doing it are lying. Because if they had the time to write all day long, they would use every distraction at their disposal to avoid actually writing something. I know this, because I am one of those liars myself.

Right now, while I may actually be writing something, it’s not what I’m supposed to be writing. I’m supposed to be starting my next novel. In fact, I should’ve started it ages ago—or at least created a substantial outline of what I want it to be. At this point, even a completed paragraph would be good.

Unfortunately, when you complete your first novel, and it’s about to be published, it’s assumed you’ve been at this writing thing since you were twelve, and that you have a minimum of two or three completed manuscripts in the bottom of a desk drawer somewhere that you can pull out, polish up a bit, and send off to your publisher.

Insert eye roll emoji here.

I really do want to start my next book. And I actually have a general idea of what I want to write about. It’s just that it’s a sensitive subject that’s close to my heart, which makes it that much more scary and overwhelming. I’m not afraid of expressing vulnerability, but I do worry too much about what others think of me. Especially since I’m a two on the Enneagram scale (truly weird how accurate this test is) which means my personality makes me only want to please. https://www.enneagraminstitute.com/type-2.

While the topic of my next novel may not please everyone, maybe it will help others, which is also part of my personality type. So I ask myself—which is more important—pleasing, or helping? With all the hate and division going on in the world these days, I think I’ll stick with helping.

Okay I’m done. I’m posting this, and then I swear, I’m not getting up from the computer until I write an entire page. Or maybe a paragraph. Or at least one really great sentence.

I’ll keep you posted.

Lost in Oaxaca