By J.T. Ellison
I write to you from my favorite place—an airplane seat. And actually my favorite of all seats, the A seat in the exit row with no seat in front of me. I’m on Southwest, for those of you who are like, what? There are seats like that? Oh yes, padawan. Oh, yes.
So here I am, legs stretched out, laptop in lap, the LIE TO ME soundtrack playing on my headphones… it’s perfect. (Many thanks to the lovely barely 5 feet tall lady in front of me who was going to take it, then saw me looming behind her and said, “You probably need that.” Bless you, madam!)
So, warning… true confessions ahead.
I never like to admit any sort of weakness, it’s an Italian thing, I think, but today I realized I am utterly frazzled. It’s was almost 10:30 am, I’d been putting out fires all morning, the phone was ringing, I was having massive outfits for New York packing regret. I stalked into the kitchen and said to Randy — now you see why I can’t get anything done around here. He just smiled and calmly continued his own work while I swanned in and out. I had a grumpy call with a contractor, then huffed back upstairs, unpacked my bag and repacked it with all new clothes, stomped around, fretted and realized… Wow. You are a wreck, sister. And I asked myself what was really wrong.
I do these checkins every so often, whether I’m happy or sad, settled or frachetty. Sometimes I look at the calendar and have that “Ah” realization. But others times… especially the days when I’m feeling this level of out of control, I have to take stock and see what’s really going on. Hormones are a great crutch, but they aren’t the sole issue.
I looked back at the past few weeks, at my normal schedule, and realized it’s been shot to hell. Writing? Not nearly enough. Yoga? Nope. Walking? Some. Listening to music? Not really. Golf? No. Reading? More there, happily. But everything I am accomplishing is being sandwiched between minor freakouts.
I hate the term busy, but right now, it’s the only word I can use. I’m transitioning from one novel to another, have a big (surprise) project going on in the background, and am several months into remodeling a couple of rooms in my house. Lots of incredible things are happening with LIE TO ME. I’ve been on the road almost all month. The Predators are in the Stanley Cup. And the world is a really, really weird place.
My deep work time has been encroached upon. I’m out of my habit.
And I had that Ah moment. There it is. The OCD control freak doesn’t have control, and has let her discipline slide. And that triggers major anxiety. And anxiety triggers chaos. So it was clearly time for a little chemical help. Ativan on board, I was able to really take a look around (ahem, limited view, aka plane) and figure out exactly what was wrong.
Writing is a muscle. You must exercise it regularly or it atrophies. But you can go too far. I’ve been keeping that muscle flexed all the time. Which isn’t good for the muscle either, is it?
I’m sort of ridiculous. I always think I’m a superhuman who can just move seamlessly from project to project without any sort of glitch, like opening the door ahead and closing the one behind me. As if my brain would allow for that sort of finality on a project. LOL.
One of these days, I’m going to build a month into the schedule to allow me to take a couple of weeks off between projects. I’m maybe not being fair to my muse trying to wring words out of her when she’s been working so hard for months, and dealing with life.
I think that’s why I normally get sick when I finish a book. It’s my body saying OK, now it’s time to chill for a few. But this time, when I got sick, I had to power through for a week of meetings in New York. I haven’t had that break, and I needed it.
So. After BEA, I will be doing a massive reset on the schedule, the habit, and all that attendant jazz. Because I absolutely adore this life. I adore that I’m sitting on a plane, flying to a book conference, where I get to schmooze with a bunch of wicked smart people about books and stories, then fly home to write them. I am so, so lucky. And as crazy as it gets sometimes, it’s the perfect life for me.
But the words are what matters. The words are what connects me to you. Without them, our contract goes away. And I will never let that happen.
Via: JT Ellison