I’ve said this before. Writing is weird. I mean, a writer grabs words out of the air and arranges them like she’s hooking up train cars to an untested engine. This word must appear before this word, and then this one should come next. THEN that writer must roll that word train out there for everyone else to see if the train runs and well…
Writing is WEIRD.
Writing is especially weird if you have some kind of real life you need to live while you’re doing it.
Don’t get me wrong! Writing is still the best damn job a girl can do in her pajamas. I want to go to work, every single day, (almost). As long as I can make my living, even if it’s not quite as flashy as fictional author Rick Castle’s living, I am perfectly, justifiably, content.
But case in point, I’m editing the third novel in the vampire series I started back in 2009. I wrote the first two books for MLR Press. They were titled Notturno and Vigil, and I was to follow up with a third, Matins. Cue REAL LIFE.
Actually, painfully, cue the grim reaper.
It’s not a secret I was in the process of writing the second book, Vigil, when my mother passed away. Something about the book, or the universe I set it in, or the woman I was then–the optimist, the mother of elementary school kids, the daughter who lost her lifelong best friend and became an orphan in one day–created a barrier between me and those books I couldn’t get past for a long time.
I back-burnered the third book in the Hours series, I shelved the universe, and I put Adin and Donte away because I simply wasn’t the same woman who wrote them.
And I could pull them back out–rescue them from that place of dustballs and sadness–because I realized am never going to be that same woman again.
And that’s why writing is weird.
Writers take everything they experience in life and synthesize it into their work. They mash life and spindle it and fold it and mutilate it. They hold a mirror up to it or they fling it down and stomp on it. That’s the job, man. It’s fun. It’s exciting. And it’s never, ever boring. (Or well, yeah, it really can be but that’s a different blog post.)
At the same time writers are gorging on this big old crazy world buffet and trying to make sense out of it, they’re also required to be inside the drama, interacting with it, or simply reacting to it. You don’t get a time-out from the job of being a writer, even if you step away from the computer, put down the journal, and walk away from any kind of recording device.
Because it’s all still there inside your head.
The author who starts a book on day one isn’t even the same author who continues writing the book ten days later.
The author who writes book one of a series is a wholly different person than the author who pens book seven.
Of course, this is a major oversimplification and I don’t mean to be precious about it. As with a lot of the observations I make, this one took me a little bit by surprise. I’m very happy with how Deep Deliverance is going, but I can’t help but wonder who I’ll be when it’s time to write the next book, and what experiences I will take with me to that place…
Stay tuned for Deep Deliverance, coming out March 30th, 2016 from Samhain Publishing.
And speaking of OBSERVERS–all caps–I thought I’d share a link to an essay that made a HUGE impression on me when I was a kid. Joan Didion, my favorite contemporary writer, talks about keeping a journal here: