I am slow in some regards; I do, however, eventually pick up on the obvious.
Take this year. As the months have sped by, and the Lonely Lords have launched (along with an occasional Windham or Scottish Victorian), things have gone mostly well. The reviewers have been positive (for the most part–the jury’s still out on old Gareth), the sales pretty good for my age and stage as an author. I can’t complain, and am very grateful for the progress made so far.
And yet, as the year has progressed, I’ve been increasingly anxious about what I’ll write next. How will I do better work than I have so far? How can I reach more of the readers who will enjoy my books, and how can I do a better job of balancing the lawyering and the writing? And while I’m editing, revising, and proofreading up a storm, the new material isn’t welling up at the volume I’d like.
Oh. OH. SILLY GRACE.
I realized that I have one imagination and only one. The more I let my imagination ride the worry horse, the less time it spends on the creativity horse. The basic impulse is the same: What if…? What if I write an awful book? or What if my hero has OCD, and I can find a way to pair him up with a woman who’s ADD?
What if Gareth (or insert name of this month’s book) never gets any more good reviews? or What if my heroine has fabric allergies and becomes a book worm, then meets an extroverted hero whose empire is built on trading in cloth and wool?
If I turn that “what if” impulse to fretting–not problem solving, but fretting–rather than to listening for the ideas that could turn into more books, then I’m doomed to coaxing warmth from a weakening flame. There’s a paradox in steering the imagination, because imagination by its nature isn’t so very steerable, but I’m going to try.
I enjoy writing so very, very much, that I’d hate for the pesky aspects of publication to diminish my access to the writing.
So, my new year’s resolution has come early: What if… must be saved for thinking up new books, and not for choking the joy out of the books I’ve already written. What if belongs to the books I haven’t written yet, not to the books loose in the wild, whose creation has already given me much pleasure.
Are you thinking about New Year’s resolutions yet? Am I the only one who wastes my fire worrying?
To one commenter, I’ll send a $25 Amazon gift card.