The Inconsequential Days of a Mostly Unknown Writer

writing process diagramMy writing has been a struggle for the last two months, what with my office needing significant chunks of my time, and an active baby who requires I chase him around the house giggling for hours at a stretch.  Sometimes when I sit down to type–much less write–I wind up staring at the keyboard through two old episodes of Law & Order, and then I need to get started on something else like dinner or another round of The Baby Chase. Lately my sleep number has been out of whack, putting another limitation on my writing time, as I contort myself to find a position that doesn’t sting my hip socket.

And yet there is a light at the end of the tunnel. This Friday we will no longer be understaffed at work. Emile is sleeping better through the night, and I have hope that balance will stop by for a long visit in my routine. I will be faced with a decision of which writing project to ramp back up for headway-making.

  • There’s the YA novel about time travel with LGBT themes that has come close to representation twice now but that needs some work in the transitions (sic) between eras.
  • There’s the YA novel about parallel universes with trans themes that is in the first draft. I’ve done all the work on plotting and characters, but I could stand to push both of these efforts deeper. And I’m at 18,000 words, so I’ve barely cracked past the beginning of the story.
  • There are two novels for adults that I’ve plotted out and finished the back story but that haven’t seen me start writing. Those are probably going to stay back-burner until next winter, in all probability.
  • There’s the sequel to Bumbling that my publisher would like to see me start, but other than this blog I’ve done no writing on it, nor have I mapped out the scenes or characters.

I always have a glut of small projects and/or writing commitments that I can crunch through while I’m working on a more long-term book. I’m happy to have the 500-800 word article so I can get momentum going and keep my computer warm.

I don’t think these balancing acts and writing priorities are what most people have in mind when they think of working writers. We’re supposed to be lying back on a fluffy couch dictating our next commercial success to our assistant, or bent over a half-finished bottle of scotch, pouring out our hostility into an opus of family and war stories. But I remember something Bob Mayer said to us emerging writers a couple of years ago at the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association conference: Picture where you’ll be in 3 years. In 5 years, as a writer. Have clear goals. I tried to summon my most optimistic ideas about my own work, and I came up with this–Publish a book for LGBT readers in 2 years. Hit bestseller status in 5 years.

Optimistic and Impossible get mixed up in my head sometimes, so that’s where the bestseller thing comes from, I’m sure. Then again I did get the memoir out to readers in my time frame. But I know, I can’t even get an agent to sign on to my time travel novel. Well, not yet. Successful writers the continent over have stories of rejection after rejection. Some of them for ten or fifteen years, and still, they keep writing. I try to summon them when my avid pessimist is dancing in the room with me, which is a lot less like dancing and more like being pulled around the ballroom by a drunk uncle. The trick for these intrepid writers is that they keep coming up with new material, improving on their last set of words.

So maybe I just answered my own question. Leave the time-travel aside and get back into the swing on the parallel universe novel. It really is a great story, promise. I haven’t fallen in love with it as hard as I did with The Unintentional Time-Traveler, but I will. I always do. That’s part of the pull of writing–I can meet new people, even if they’re imaginary and even if they’re of my own creation. I try not to fall in love with my language, because I think readers can sense such things, and it tends to come across like narcissism. But my characters? I can get down with a little love fest there.

These days people I know see me writing and they keep their conversations with me brief, either because I’m not out in public enough to remain interesting to them, or they think I think I’m a big deal and won’t have anything to say to them, or because they know my minutes of free time are numbered. I hope that as balance resumes in my life–even if it’s calibrated differently than pre-baby and pre-job–I’ll have more time for interacting with my fellow humans. I enjoy down time and relaxing with friends. Please don’t mind me if I seem unduly excited to be typing away.

I love text messages about meetups, and I just adore a nice beer at the end of a writing session. When I’m not chasing Emile through the dining room, that is.

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7 Comments on “The Inconsequential Days of a Mostly Unknown Writer”

  1. May 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I let myself curl up into the “non-writing” spaces. I know that thoughts will collect like condensation. They will make clouds. Those clouds will grow fat with pregnancy, and then the pregnant clouds will make much with the trickling and pouring babies, dazzling light-show, and the booming thunder claps. I will dance like a wild thing then.

    • evmaroon
      May 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm #

      Here’s to a thick monsoon season for you, Alysia! Also, sometime I need to tell you about when Dorothy Allison got me into a mess of trouble.

      • May 28, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

        I’d love to hear it! And, monsoon to you too!

  2. May 28, 2012 at 12:51 pm #

    “I try not to fall in love with my language, because I think readers can sense such things, and it tends to come across like narcissism.”

    This bit just made it into my archive of things to keep in mind while writing. I DO so have that tendency to turn a starry-eyed gaze on certain turns of phrase.

    • evmaroon
      May 28, 2012 at 7:17 pm #

      Well now, I don’t mean to say that we shouldn’t care about our word choices, tone, structure, meter, lyrical quality of our language, and all. But at some point an editor will come upon our work and suggest changes. At some point we may grow beyond a given specific sentence we once enjoyed. I try not to write for the accumulated letters but for the entire work–the messages I’m attempting to convey, the story that caught my attention, the characters who drift around my head like a fine dust. I hope to never bump a reader out of story because I’d prioritized some phrasing I loved rather than conveying the tale, if that makes sense.

  3. May 28, 2012 at 1:26 pm #

    I think you missed something there… procrastination. There’s not a writer I know who doesn’t procrastinate during the writing process, myself included.

    • evmaroon
      May 28, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

      Oh yes, I’ve been known to put off today what I can think about doing next week. Though I’ll note that as my writing time has become extremely limited, my procrastination tendency has eased up. Which is fortunate.

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