6.12.14 – On Being Present

By JT Ellison

I am a huge fan of Dani Shapiro. I love her blog, I love her new book on creativity, I love her deliberateness, her mindfulness, her patience. I also realized we title our blogs the same way, with an On prefix. With so much admiration for the woman, you’d think I’d do all in my power to emulate her.

And I do, in so many ways. I’m trying to be more deliberate, more mindful, more patient with myself. But today I read this piece and simply couldn’t relate.

What next? she asks herself. She has been on book tour, traveled, taught, done all the things that sap our creativity. And now she needs to know what to work on next.

And I suppose this is a great failing of mine, why I am not as deliberate as I’d like, because I have an inability to stop and wonder, what next?

Since I signed my very first book deal, I have been on deadline. I’ve done four deals with Mira, each for three books. Written two books a year, minimum, since 2006. The deals with Catherine and Putnam are for two books at a time, too. Between Samantha books and Nicholas books, I’m scheduled out through 2016 right now.

That means there’s always a deadline, a need to think ahead, to anticipate when a proposal is due. To be coming up with ideas for what’s next well in advance of when I’ll have to share said ideas. I’m usually thinking what next when I’m about 50K into a book – then again, I write series, so it’s easier to be in the moment for the characters storyline, to see where they need to go in their arc, than if I were writing standalones.

And it’s been an incredible blessing. I function better this way. I can’t imagine writing being any other way.

That said, it’s very hard to stay present when you’re always living in the future.

I have so many books I want to write, so many ideas and proposals and stories that need telling. So many genres I want to try. People ask where do I get my ideas — my problem is, I get them everywhere, all the time, and I don’t have nearly enough time to write them all.

What next?

I look forward to the day I can truly ask that of myself.

2228 words today. Moving the story forward. (she says, smiling…)


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