I’ve long been fascinated with the deep myths we carry about what writers are and aren’t. One of my favorites was very difficult to shed: the vision of myself in a freezing garret somewhere in Paris, circa 1920, with an espresso in one hand and a Gauloise in the other. My hair would be short, oily and wild because of the many times I grab it . . . pull at it . . . run my fingers through it . . . The mood would be one of mad creativity and struggle – torture almost – as I midwife brilliance out of each ink-dipped quill scratch upon a thick sheet of paper.
Yeah . . . I know.
The reality of how I write is much less romantic: I turn on the Notebook, sit my butt down and go. The phone rings. The dogs need to be let out. Oh, it’s time to pick up the kids! Wow, I’ve got to get this brochure written; that media contact made for a client; call others for donations for a third; here are the fifteen emails for Left Coast Crime; need to make a decision. Is it the right one? Oops! I’ve got to make dinner. Who’s washing the dishes? Taking out the garbage?
Still I manage daily to further the fiction word count. A writer needs to write; I’m writing.
But lately I’ve been going through an extremely intense emotional time. It’s guaranteed to last beyond Left Coast Crime – maybe for the rest of my life – and I’m finding a new challenge in my work. One I’d never thought about before.
You see, my mood doesn’t match the story I want to write and I think it’s influencing my work in a way I don’t want. But I love the WIP and don’t want to abandon it right now. And the reality is that what’s going on personally/emotionally isn’t going to be a quick fix, it might never be fixed. In that case, the whole idea of postponing the work for the right time is moot.
So what do I do?
For now I’m forging ahead. I console myself with the knowledge that editing will probably be my friend in this case. Or, if I’m lucky, I’m wrong about the influence of this sadness on the story. Perhaps writing will stand well enough in spite of – or because of – this period of flux.
So my questions today are these:
1. As readers, have you ever come across a piece of fiction that felt like the storyteller wasn’t in the story? That it was somehow inauthentic – not because of skill, but precisely because of something deeper and much less tangible?
2. As writers, have you ever experienced what I’m so insufficiently trying to express: a time where your emotions just don’t mesh with the work but you’re unwilling to stop writing it?
And an apology: Because of what’s going on, in addition to work and Left Coast Crime, I’ve been very quiet on the blog . . . haven’t been participating in the conversation much at all. I see this being the pattern until early April. Please bear with me. After LCC, I’ll surely be more active here again.