I'm not writing these days. It's amazing how hard that is. Once I got in the flow of the routine, the writing every day, the scheduled time in the library with the computer in front of me humming away as my fingers clicked over the keys, the lines of dialogue ringing in my ears everywhere I went as I repeated them over and over until I could find a place to get them on paper, it is terribly difficult not to write.
I want to write. More than anything. It is killing me. And I don't mean blogging, or emailing, which I have become woefully behind on, because that is not the same. That is jabber... the boring, me-centered kind of writing that is exactly NOT what I want to be doing.
So why, you may ask, am I not writing?
Because I am not ready to write.
This seems like an imbecilic answer as I type it, but it is the truth. My first novel is done, the good or the bad of it. I find I am rewriting it over and over just to have something to write, and I've got to stop that, because now I have to keep a list of what copy I sent to what agent so I will know which version someone did or didn't like. Really, now, that is one good way to make you insane. So I have stopped (for this week anyway, and for as long as I can resist the temptation).
But I am not ready for the next book yet. I am plotting, planning, reading, researching, devising, getting to know my characters. What I do not want to do is to give in to the desire to just start writing without knowing where I am going. I did that on my first novel, which led to extensive rewrites and perhaps not the tightest or purposeful story unfolding. This story, or rather series, I need to have planned out. And to plan it I need to do research. And research includes reading. A lot of it. And reading takes a lot of time.
It's driving me mad. Truly. Sincerely. I turn on the computer and feel the keys under my fingers the way a drug addict might finger a crack pipe. I miss it. I want it.
But then I look at the last writing I did, and I think, Do I want to get to the end of this book and wonder if I did everything I could to make it irresistible? No. Definitely not. And not just plot wise, but as a work of writing, if I can learn to write it better by reading a few books about the process, isn't that worthwhile?
So at the library I am pulling out piles of books, about writing dialogue, great opening lines, lively plots, pirates, privateering, the revolutionary war, history of North Carolina, and countless other books that I might glean a better book from.
Normally I love reading. I read about forty books a year, which I realize isn't enormous compared to some people but is still a pretty good haul for me considering my other time commitments. I have been know to hole up on my couch for hours and hours at a time, ignoring every need around me, to finish a good book. But now, I can't focus. I read a few chapters and then turn back to the computer.
Even now, as I write this, I have four books in front of me, all intriguing in their own right, but I skimmed a few pages and I am back at the computer trying to scratch the itch.
There is a sense in which I feel a bit hollow now that my baby is done and into the world. It's a bit of the empty nest syndrome, I think, and though I have more than enough things to keep me busy fifty hours a day, I still find myself a little aimless, a little sad, a little restless.
I know that the only way I'm going to fill that void is to write again, and the only way to write is to do the grunt work beforehand, so I suppose I'd better get to it. Really, though, all this prep is killing me!