Wherein it gets harder to keep all our balls in the air.
It happens. You wake up, gab your coffee. Slice your hard boiled egg in half and give it a perfect, artistic drizzle of Sriracha sauce. You line up your Greek yogurt for a an hour or so later, when you know you’ll need another high protein snack.
You log in, crack your knuckles, and start typing. Everything is perfect. Words flow.
Aaannd the phone rings.
It could be a telemarketer. It could be the high school, informing you one of your kids is languishing in the office, covered in a frightening case of hives. It could be a broken car, an accident, an illness. It could be a death in the family. All of these things can and do happen in the life of a professional writer. In anyone’s life this much is true:
Shit happens. Absolute Shit, happens absolutely.
And while we like to think of the professional writer as someone who lives on the coast of Maine in a huge house with a housekeeper and all the time in the world to stare out into the mystical sea so she can hear the muses when they call, in real life she’s more likely to be a mother, a daughter, a girlfriend, a computer analyst by day, a member of the church choir, a mentor to other writers, a spinner of plates, a juggler of those balls of life that cannot, must not fall despite the fact that she’s writing her first book.
Or her third book. Or her tenth.
Writing is a business, and it’s a lot like sales. You’re driving the creativity bus like Sandra Bullock in the movie Speed, and you have to keep it going at a certain rate, NO MATTER WHAT.
That’s what it takes to be a professional writer. That’s why NaNoWriMo is such a magnificent endeavor!
What you’re doing now? What you’ve geared up to do by laying in supplies and partnering up with buddies? What you’re talking about, dreaming about, planning for, clearing your schedules for? Is the life that every writer who earns a living wage is doing, every day of his life. Sundays? Check. During the World Series? Check. Holidays, vacation days, check, check (probably).
You want the job of professional writer? Do NaNoWriMo–Hashtag get it done, hashtag no excuses, hashtag make it happen in spite of your daily life. That’s how we do.
What happens during the ordinary course of the day might not have a lot to do with putting words on paper, (which is the biggest bait and switch in the writer’s world, and is a great topic for another post.) Interruptions happen constantly. Emotions fluctuate. A writer with health issues, depression, anxiety, grief, and loss must still write, just as all of us must do our jobs despite the things that challenge us. There’s no magic; it takes hefty dose of hard work, a peck of perseverance, and a modicum of masochism.
My kid was the hives kid. We spent Monday afternoon at the doctor’s office. When it happened again on Tuesday we spent the afternoon in the ER. (He’s doing fine, but we really need to find out what he’s allergic to.) Two different editors sent me massive, absolutely “MUST HAVE RIGHT NOW” edits on two different full-length manuscripts. All those things took a huge bite out of my time, yet it didn’t mean I got to sit out NaNoWriMo day four and five. I worked on my NaNo project late at night, skidding into my word count like a smoking meteor just as I got so sleepy the words swam on the page.
And I’ll tell you a secret. I did that work poorly. I’ll have to edit those chapters later. I might even have to cut them. That’s why God invented the delete button, and they’re only words.
But because I’m a professional writer I completed my task, and the chances are pretty good I’ll find something useful within the words that I’ll be able to build on later.
The time spent writing is never wasted, it’s only when you stop the flow of words that they get stuck and elusive and stubborn.
Write like the wind, NaNoWriMers. Keep those plates spinning. Keep those balls in the air!
The weather continues fine.