Monday, July 6, 2009

Not Writing

I have not been writing, not a word. I have revisions due to my agent by the end of August and I've begun a new book, but I have not been writing. I bought a new laptop with a Very Large Screen and full-sized keyboard and set up my fancy teak writing table in the second bedroom of the house, but I have not been writing. I have an antique oak office chair and a nice apothecary lamp at my writing table, and I have the world's greatest pen and plenty of paper, but I have not been writing. I have been doing a lot of work on the new house, Mighty Reader and I laboring long into each night painting and repairing and rebuilding and shifting and unpacking and watching that the cat doesn't get outside unsupervised and running to the local hardware store every other day and getting to know the folks at the lumber yard up the street and trying to remember that we must eat while painting, hammering and lifting things, and I have had neither time nor energy for writing.

It worries me, this not writing. Certainly I padded my schedule for revisions to take moving house into consideration, so my August deadline isn't a problem. What is, or feels like, a problem is that I am afraid I might lose the habit of writing. It might be very hard to pick up a pen and face my revisions and my new novel once Mighty Reader and I have settled into the new home and I've finally found time/strength to write again. Yes, I think I've come up with ways to address all my agent's concerns (and I've come up with a few extra things I want to do to the story as well), but the more time that goes by without looking at/thinking about the novel, the more foreign the idea that I am a writer becomes. So it worries me, this not writing, because I have not been writing.

17 comments:

  1. If you continue to write about your not writing, will that count as writing, or is this writing not really writing?

    Sometimes a break can help you. My hope is that when you do begin to write again, you will be happy to be back at it and relieved that the house projects have eased, and your writing will be endowed with joy and vigor.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I call this whole not writng thing "The Void". It happens to me every now and then. So far, it has not become a permanent state. Sometimes, our batteries need to recharge so the words can flow easily again.

    My advice: quit stressing about not writing and continue your new house projects. Any time I've moved, the writing falls to the wayside for a bit. The words will flow again!

    S

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rick: I don't count writing about writing as writing, though clearly it is writing in the strictest sense even if it doesn't, strictly speaking, make sense. So there's that question answered.

    I hope you're right, that this break from working on the book will actually be a help and not a hindrance. I feel sort of like I'm standing on a wharf and my book is a ship out in the harbor, just sort of drifting with the tides, getting gradually farther from shore as time passes. I might not recognize it when I next see it. That might be the best thing, of course, but it might seem overwhelming. I'm not in the mood for overwhelming.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Scott: Yeah, but (stamps feet). Mostly, I'm exhausted. Writing sounds like a lot of work. I have plenty of work already.

    Was it you who said that if the house you live in gets sold, you'll be part of the sale because you've sworn to Never Move Again? I feel like that now. Ugh.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I hear you. I'm in the same place right now, waiting to get Hound back from my line edit.

    I think we all need breaks sometimes though, and sometimes life just gets in the way. Here's hoping you and I can both rope in our muses sooner than later. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I totally hear you on this. But usually, when I slip into Not Writing mode, the Writing mode comes back in full force when I give it the time and attention it deserves. So never fear!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Erin: Yes, sometimes the muses want to go on vacation when we're not looking. Hopefully we've got them on speed dial for when we need them. I can't wait for Hound to find a publisher; it looks massively cool.

    ElanaJ: I hope you're right, because I'll need its full force.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Scott, do you feel like you are drifting away from writing in general or just from Horatio? Because I feel farther away from Rooster, but closer to being a writer. In fact...and I've been saving this happy announcement-- while I was working on your book this weekend and revising mine at the same time, the whole idea of having an outline suddenly made sense in a new way. Your work has helped me to see a major thing that I haven't been doing a very good job with, I can't express it very well, but it has to do with more density in your paragraphs--, and I think an outline would help me to separate story from this density so that I can pay more attention to it.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Davin: I just feel like writing in general is drifting away from me, actually. Like it's something I used to do. The novel, the agent, the revisions...it all begins to have a dreamlike quality. Though that's probably just sleep deprivation from all the house-related work! As I told Justus, I plan to print out the ms any day now and begin having a look at it and making plans.

    Hm, I say about your cryptic happy announcement. I'm glad you had an epiphany, though. Let me guess: "Scott's paragraphs are very dense. Like, I don't know, cheese maybe. Certainly they're much thicker than soup, but not as tasty as bread. Yes, cheese. Blue cheese that's gone slightly off. I don't want to write like that. Thank god I noticed when I did. Hey, maybe an outline would help me avoid it." I'm exhausted. Does it show?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Scott, my inward conversation was more like:

    "Wow, Scott actually uses the paragraphs to convey information about time, place and interesting action. My paragraphs just have people standing and stepping form one location to another and then looking at things."

    And, I think my paragraphs were only serviceable because I was thinking about the story as a whole, but if I got that out of the way in an "outline" type draft, then on later drafts I wouldn't have to worry about it. So, my "outline" is now more of an "early draft with fewer details" which I have a feeling is close to what you are doing.

    Pish!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Scott - yes, I was the one who said my partner could sell me with the house, because I'm not moving again. I'm done. Finished! : )

    ReplyDelete
  12. As a writer who's often in Not Writing mode, I understand the worry you might not start up again, but I think you can relax and write when you're ready. Moving and home improvements are incredibly exhausting, and writing is hard.
    And, from what I've read of you here and on Lit Lab, I don't think you have to worry about writing drifting away from you. You sound very serious and passionate about it! I think you just need a break. Also, your descriptions of your writing space and pen and lamp and desk also make me think writing is near and dear to you, and you won't give it up.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As others said earlier, maybe the break will help. A break always helps me, although I worry the whole way through, as you are doing.

    I get what Davin's saying about density in paragraphs. I'm struggling with this too, and I've found more and more that an outline is the key to creative effective "density" in our work. I might be full of it, too. But we already know that.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Perhaps I'm just slow, but I don't know if I know what Davin's getting at. Certainly when you know what your story is, and where you're heading as you tell it, you have the luxury to take your time when writing and let your paragraphs serve double- or triple-duty, talking about more than just the plot and immediate characterization. If that's what you guys mean. If it's not, then tell me!

    I'm aware that my writing is pretty dense, and sometimes I think that's a good thing. Sometimes I don't.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Scott, Yes, I meant what you said about having the luxury to take your time when writing so that you can focus on your paragraphs. The outline is just a way to break up the work. Outline for the story, later writing for the paragraph/word levels, for example.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Davin: "Outline for story." That's exactly it. Outline for story and structure. It's like the first sketch on canvas before you dig into the real painting. Everything else--voice, texture, depth, character, symbolism, hidden zombie references--is in the actual prose.

    ReplyDelete