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.
For 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!)