My Book Hates Me

In my spare time, I’m writing a book for authors. The working title is, “My Book Hates Me.” The theme of the book is lessons learned, things I’d wish I’d known, the usual agony-aunt stuff that fills the head of one aspiring to become worthy of old guard status.

I was inspired to take up this project because the past year has been something of an anomaly for me. Almost every book I’ve written has had slow patches in the creative process, stretches where the words trickled instead of gushed, or scenes that had to be discarded.

But 2021 went beyond the usual frustrations to new depths of, “I got nothin’.” Fortunately, I did not have nothing. I in fact had a ton of Other Work besides the big books. Novellas have ever been my friend (wrote three of those this year), and all those Lady Violet books had to be revised, copy edited, proofread, covered, formatted, and uploaded.

Miss Dignified CoverFor November, which is traditionally (for authors) NaNoWriMo (or write a novel in a month, no matter how dodgy the first draft), I wrote not one word. I gave up on the work in progress and told myself to just clear the bow wave of production tasks, which turned out to be much larger than I’d realized. I’ve never blitz-launched a series before, and yikes–I learned a thing or two about what’s involved!

Now it’s December, Miss Dignified and the Lady Violets are more or less locked and loaded (meaning for sale in the web store), and it’s time to write again. Much to my delight, the words are there. Xavier Fournier and Catherine Fairchild are getting along like a house afire, and I can see Miss Desirable’s big black moment circling ever closer. Wheee!

What I take away from this experience is a renewed respect for the wisdom of a Sabbath. I was terrified to stop writing, to blink in the staring contest I’d gotten into with my manuscript. I haven’t taken a month off from writing for probably twenty years.

I’ve fallen into bottomless scrolling as my default work mode, making little distinction between week days, working hours, and life. It’s either a writing day, or a sally forth into the world and get other stuff done day. If all else fails–and I do mean all else–there’s housework. Not a Sabbath to be seen, not a respite from technology, not a change of scene, not a day free of to-dos. (And yes, I do hear the resonance with last week’s post too!)

What does a Sabbath look like for you? Did the pandemic change your sources of respite? Are you considering any new ones (like maybe, a tech free day)? I’ll add three commenters to the ARC list for A Tryst by the Sea, the first novella in the Siren’s Retreat Quartet I’m doing with Erica Ridley this spring.

(And no blog post next week–I’m taking Boxing Day off!)


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12 comments on “My Book Hates Me

  1. Working from home has changed my work routine. I am loving not driving in the traffic and worrying if an accident will make me late. But, sometimes it’s hard to remember if it’s Wednesday or Thursday. The days blend together. And if I work overtime on the weekend- the week is longer.

    Sunday mornings are my me time. Coffee, corgis and a book. No phone calls, no meetings, no deadlines. I finish my housework and try to write a review or two before dinner. I need the quiet time to just be.

    This morning Greg is warming my feet and sleeping because corgis love rainy Sundays!

    Happy Holidays Grace!

  2. I need your “My Book Hates Me” yesterday. Please and Thank You. I’m a mama of kiddos that still need a lot of physical needs met on the daily by a parent… hasn’t been a Sabbath in years. Hubby works from home since a terrible car accident that preceded the pandemic. I think TGIF with a new book is as close to a respite as I get.

    It’s always fun to hear about your creative process! Yay for novellas. Boo for bottomless scrolling… I fall into that pit all too often.

    Merry Christmas to you!!! XOXO!!!

  3. My Sabbath Day has changed for many reasons but I have realized if I DON’T take some sort of time for myself, things go to Heck around here. With lots of family issues right now, the only Me-Time I get is when I take a shower. And I don’t want to be disturbed. I only think about my own physical needs and then I can pick up from there and do anything. And 30 minutes (AT LEAST) before I fall asleep, I read–often one of your books, Grace–letting my mind re-boot before I try to rest.

    These strategies have gotten me through the most difficult parts of motherhood before this difficult time. And when I am finally able to take a little bit more time for myself to rest and rejuvenate, these are still my basic go-tos.

    Have blessed Christmas, everyone! And Grace, thank you for writing books that not only tell a story but take us to another place and time!

  4. I keep having involuntary breaks thrust upon me by health issues, so I could do with a few less breaks & more uninterrupted productive time.

    That book is sure to be a best seller in a whole new genre!

  5. With a kid still at home, I am still feeling the endless needs and drudgery of childcare. I don’t have a whole day off, but I make sure to take long breaks everyday during the school day to read or take a walk or just be quiet. If I don’t do that my burnout is quick to appear and hard to get rid of. It was easier before quarantine of course, peace and quiet were much easier to come by, but I like the idea of a completely tech free day so maybe that can be a new restful (email and news free) habit.

  6. The pandemic added an additional layer of “lack of rest”. So, yes, I have needed to consciously stop and rest on occasion.
    It is necessary, but it has been a hard-fought battle in my brain. (From last week’s post, this is one of my tapes… having to do everything perfectly and, therefore, everything is always not quite done enough or correctly.)
    I did succeed last week, though (and the world didn’t fall apart or come to an end)! ;p So, I will celebrate that victory!

  7. I feel very fortunate that I am retired and childless, so I usually structure my days as I wish. I have had to add driving and other chores in the last month (and it will last until end of January) since my partner had neck/spine surgery in November and cannot drive or lift anything heavy for 10 weeks. That is a stressor for sure since he insists he’s either in a lot of pain or he’s just fine and can do everything. He also doesn’t like hovering so I am doing my best to let him tell me what he needs. It will be a quiet Christmas this year because of this but that’s okay with us. But this situation is not permanent so I can wait until things are normal again.

    I wish you all a happy holiday season and that you get great boxes on Boxing Day!

  8. I work a traditional 40 hours work week and have to care for numerous pets in the morning before and after work, and on weekends also. Shopping for supplies for them has been challenging -i.e. requiring more trips to various grocery stores, trying to order online, pickup, etc. Saturday is my day where (in between loading the dishwasher and swapping the wash between the washer and the dryer) I can go lounge on my sofa. Today I took a nap. It was delightful. Retirement is supposed to happen (hopefully) in the middle of next year. Right now I feel like I have two jobs.

    I’m not creative but find sometimes that my ideas come not when I am staring at a computer screen but when I’m moving around doing other things.

  9. You ask what a Sabbath looks like to us, but I hear, “How do you procrastinate?” I don’t have a novel in me, but I do write cookbooks. I wrote my first as an engagement gift for my niece many years ago. It became a tradition to gift it to every newly engaged or married couple in the family. At first I printed them at the local print shop where I worked, but when that job evaporated (family shops with a single, two color, offset printer couldn’t compete with the chain stores), I found I could print paperback versions through an online service, so I was able to continue the gifting. After my parents passed and I inherited both their recipe boxes, I decided to create another cookbook, this one immortalizing Mom and Dad’s many recipes. It was truly a labor of love, as I incorporated pictures of them on each recipe page, as well as scans of their original recipe cards. Again, I gifted copies to family members (I did receive a $.59 royalty when a distant acquaintance purchased a copy! I’d have framed the check except it was an electronic payment…).

    With that project finished and the pandemic still ongoing, my dear husband suggested a volume two to my original cookbook, which I started back in February. As the progress of the book is still in the early, “type up all the recipes and proofread” stage (my least favorite part of the process), I find everything and anything can take me away from the work. I spend hours every day reading the newsfeeds from at least 4 different publications plus 2 or 3 networks. I get aggravated at myself because it isn’t as if I even enjoy keeping up with so much news…after all, the news is rarely pleasant or uplifting! After some months away from the project, I did find that when I finally started working on the book again a few weeks ago, that first, I was further along than I thought I was (a pleasant surprise), and second, that I began to anticipate the fun I was working toward when I get to the design and typeset stage of the book, with ideas for the look I want for this edition. So even though I “wasted” so many months away from the project, I find that I have renewed enthusiasm and have gone back to working on it at least a couple of hours a day. At this rate I ought to be finished some day!

  10. My tech free day that I had pre-covid went away during the pandemic, and I haven’t reinstituted it unfortunately. Soon, I hope! It’s so refreshing to the soul and body

  11. Hello Grace
    Glad to hear you are enjoying a break away day. They can be so mind clearing.

    I’ve enjoyed you’re writings for years and gave myself the Christmas gift of 3 of your books in the new series.

    Over Covid I’ve enjoyed rereading your novels and they have kept me entertained while letting my mind meander over the ideas you present in the storyline… again Thank You… it’s a pleasant way to reconnect with values and dreams.

    All the best in 2022.