I'm at that mystical, magical moment in the creation of a new manuscript: the one where I start to ponder other professions I might in fact be better suited to. (As evidence, I point to the fact that the last sentence ends with a preposition.)
You hit a certain point and you can't remember why you thought this story was a good idea to begin with. You don't know what comes next, or why it should. You think the characters aren't coming to life properly, the plot is trite, the dialogue is jokey instead of conversational and wouldn't it just be a better idea to learn auto mechanics or something?
But I soldier on, without ever actually becoming a soldier, because I am in my mid-fifties and a coward. I don't give in to the urge to just "take a day off" because that becomes a week off, then a month off, and the next thing you know, a visit to the DeVry Institute seems like a really good career move. I don't believe in Writer's Block, so I keep writing every day.
The fact that at the end of this week (August 1, because that was what I promised myself) I will begin writing another manuscript at the same time I write the last third of the current one isn't really a great comfort.
But there is some solace in the knowledge that comes with experience. I'm now writing what will be my 13th published novel (along with a couple that are not-so-published, but one of which got me my master's degree), and that means this is the 15th time I've hit this wall. I always reach a spot where the work seems like a bad idea. I always think this is the end of the line. I always consider taking up the flute professionally, despite never having, to the best of my knowledge, ever touched a flute.
So this too shall pass. I'll barrel on through the wall because there's a real honest-to-goodness deadline coming up and there has to be a book by then, and besides, I don't really have a better plan. And when I'm done, I'll realize that the story actually came out pretty well, and there will be an editor out there (hi, Terri!) who will help it become better.
Is this keeping me up nights? Nah. The Yankees' complete lack of offense is making me stay awake, students are not getting their assignments in on time, I need to lose 30 pounds (low estimate) and my mom is still rehabbing a shattered ankle while my daughter prepares to move to East Harlem, so the book becomes an actual help in getting to sleep.
I think about the story when my head hits the pillow (usually that's not long after I've gotten the 1000 words in for the day) and sometimes even work out the odd plot problem. It helps me focus on something useful when all those other things threaten to weigh on my mind.
Maybe this isn't such an awful moment after all.
A few personal notes: Despite some unintentionally deceptive comments I might have made a few weeks ago, we now actually have adopted a rescue beagle who is--at least for the time being--named Gizmo. In the interest of driving up visits to DEAD GUY, I hereby include a photograph.
As I mentioned before, my amazing daughter Eve will be moving this week to an apartment in New York City, where she will spend the next year in a project called Blue Engine, an AmeriCorps program intended to help teenagers prepare to apply to college by improving math and English scores. She'll be a teaching assistant helping with algebra. It all might seem overwhelming now, but I'm sure she'll end up loving it and the lucky students who will find her in their classrooms in the Bronx starting in September will be the better off for it. We'll miss her, but she'll be close enough to visit and give us excuses to go into the city now and again.
One other thing: The Deadly Ink Mystery Conference is being held this coming weekend, August 1-3, at the Hyatt Regency in New Brunswick, NJ! I've always found it to be a fun, intimate conference, and if you're in the area, you should definitely plan on stopping in! Register now!