It's been almost a month since I finished the first draft on a book that won't be out for another year, and we'll discuss that then. The key here is that I haven't been working on a new manuscript for 28 days.
My family is becoming concerned.
I'm not the same person when I'm not writing. I'm more anxious, more edgy, less fun to hang around with. I don't have that evolving story to occupy my mind and so I think about other things that are less productive, like the presidential election (yikes!) or my usual neuroses (you don't want to know). It's not pleasant for anybody.
When I'm not writing I do crossword puzzles (when I'm not working on newspaper articles or teaching) more than I should. I can be found on Twitter and Facebook far too often. I nap during the day so I can't sleep at night. My usual aid to help me sleep--thinking about the story I'm writing--doesn't really come into play so much.
And already I can hear you say, "But Jeff, the solution is so easy--just start writing something!" If I weren't in such a cranky mood because I'm not writing I would certainly see the merit in your argument, but it ain't that simple. Right at the moment, I'm not under contract to do much of anything and the ideas I have for standalone novels are, let's say, not inspiring me a huge amount.
I started one novel and am currently, after weeks of work, on p. 11. Usually by this point I should be closing in on the 100 page point if you're keeping score at home. It's just not grabbing me. And if I'm not interested, expecting readers to eventually find this little tome enchanting is somewhat more optimistic than typically describes my nature. I'll get back to it, as soon as I run out of excuses not to. When I go to the gym rather than work on a story I'm writing, well, I really hate going to the gym.
I'm looking for sweet inspiration every morning, noon and night/but these days it just keeps on passing me by.--Gerry Rafferty, "A Dangerous Age
When I'm not writing I tend to obsess on what I laughingly refer to as "my career." I focus on minutiae and worry about the future months--sometimes years--before any development can reasonably be expected. I bother those involved (right, Josh?) when there's no need to and then instantly regret it. I concern myself with making up for the expected destitution I will no doubt experience because nobody's ever going to give me money to write anything again, and I don't know how to do anything else.
It's not a fun time, is what I'm saying.
This is not a plea for help, I promise. I'll get bitten by the bug of some story idea sooner or later--hopefully sooner--and that will set the wheels rolling once more. But right now it seems like a better idea to check the Amazon sales ranking numbers (the only ones I have available to me) on THE QUESTION OF THE FELONIOUS FRIEND. Or pre-orders of SPOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL. Or GHOST IN THE WIND. Or WRITTEN OFF.
So you see, it is possible to fill the day. I can try to learn the chords to the Beatles' Because again. Or perfect my rendition of Broken by Circe Link. Not for any particular reason, but because the guitar is five feet from my right hand and that seems much easier than anything else. I'd work on my golf swing but I've never actually played golf in my life and this doesn't seem like the time to start.
Time between books. It's happening to a writer you know almost every day. And it makes us crazy. More crazy. Crazier than usual.