What Does Not Kill Me...

Katherine Longshore 3 Tuesday, November 29, 2011
I wrote a post a few weeks ago about my greatest writing fear – not being able to write.  And yes, that idea still terrifies me.  But as I look back on the past few weeks, I realize that this is something I’ve just lived through. 

You see, one of the reasons this terrifies me is because for the past three years I have not stopped writing.  My mind is always, always busy.  And writing totally feeds that, and feeds off of it.  This is one of the reasons I love it so much.  While on vacation, I jot down ideas, do research, and sometimes even write or revise entire chapters.  On weekends, I read research books and take notes.  While my kids are skiing, I sit in the lodge (with my coffee and cinnamon roll) and revise.  I mull over ideas while I drive and shower and cook and try to fall asleep.  My kids made up a club during the summer.  It’s the MWTM club – Mom Writes Too Much.


But I worry that even pausing for a moment, inertia could extinguish the creative fire.  I feel like a writing shark – if I stop, I die.  (And yes, Bret, I totally stole that from your favorite Glee quote.)  I do spend time doing other things, and I do enjoy other things, but I have to write.  Something.  Every day.  And not writing is a symptom of a terrible evil -- writer's block.

I sent in a (very) rough draft of Book 2 to my editor at the beginning of October.  And immediately dove into research for Book 3.  I wrote the synopsis.  I wrote the first five pages.  But because I have such a difficult time switching gears, I held off writing too much.  So I also took down ideas for revision. I went through the Letters and Papers of Henry VIII in painstaking detail to make sure I got all the locations and characters correct.  I got my first pass pages for GILT, spent a week on them, and then...stopped.

Cue Katy, paralyzed.

I literally did not know what to do next.  It was like that point in the middle of a novel where you pause over the keyboard and pause and pause and pause because you don’t know what happens next.  What happens next? Push on through Book 3 even if I don’t have the voice right?  Take my own notes for revision on Book 2, even though I don't know what my editorial letter will say?  I was like a great Pushmi-pullyu, completely unable to move forward on anything.

Veronica said to enjoy it.  The peace.  The calm before the deadline storm.  Get some other things done – Christmas shopping, family time, cooking.  And I totally get that.  I could subscribe to it.  But there’s this terror that if I stop, I die. 

And then Thanksgiving came.  And I purposefully focused on not writing.  I played Monopoly with my kids.  I went shopping (not on Black Friday, are you kidding??) with my mom.  I talked books with my dad and showed off my ARCs.  I watched Lark Rise to Candleford with my husband.

I relaxed.

I still don’t know when I’ll revise Book 2.  I’ve re-started Book 3 and remember why first drafts are so bloody difficult.  I still have research to do.  But somehow, it all seems easier.  I don’t know what happens next.  But that’s OK.

I’m still afraid I’ll lose my momentum.  I’m still afraid I don’t have another book in me.  I think these fears will always be there.  But I’m also afraid I’ll lose touch with the real, as Donna mentioned yesterday.  I need to find the balance.  And last week helped.  I think that’s why I’m telling you this.

I didn’t write last week.  And it didn’t kill me.  How's that for balance?


You did it.

You faced your greatest writing fear.

And you've survived.

In the end, it isn't about never having the fear or losing the fear, but attacking it so that it doesn't kill you.

Veronica gave you some good advice, I think - enjoy the quiet moments & Monopoly when you can. Do not pass go, stop in jail, and you'll find things way better than $200. (Advice I need to take.)

Thank you, Angela! I like the idea of attacking my fear with Tofurky and book-talk.

And Beth, you're right. Veronica gives great advice. And so do you. You'll find the balance, I'm sure.

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