Those who know me are aware that I am still at work on writing a publishable first novel. So far, it has been a mysterious process, full of doubt and wonder (for me), and the outcome is far from certain.
One aspect that has been surprising to me is the extent of interest that others have about writing. I’m not talking about my friends, who, for the most part, are now experts at faking an interest for my the sake of my mewling, sad, broken self-confidence. No, I’m talking about casual acquaintances or people to whom I have just been introduced.
How do I know?
Because of the questions that they ask. And ask. And…..ask.
So, to hereby save everyone I don’t know some time, I will run through the basics (people I meet in the future will be referred to the website).
What is the book about?
I’m not sure.
Translation? “Please don’t ask me what it is about. I thought I knew, but now I’m not sure. To tell you that makes me sound like an idiot, but honestly, I’m just making it up as I go.”
No one ever seems satisfied with “I’m not sure,” but I should note that sometimes this question is asked with genuine interest. More often, it is asked with a suspicious tone, like I’m trying to pull something over on them. (Tempting answer? “It’s the Bible, except with fact-checking.”)
When will it be done?
How should I know? I just told you I don’t know what it is about.
Where do you get your ideas?
So, how’s it going? (also, what’s it like being a writer?)
My days go pretty much like this. Everyday.
Pre-6 a.m.: Read email, drink coffee, read news, check Facebook, read movie reviews.
6 a.m.: Pick up pad of paper, pen. Stare into space. Drink coffee.
6:15 a.m.: Put pen down. Turn on TV.
6:17 a.m.: Turn off TV. Pick up pen.
6:20 a.m: Turn on TV, turn down volume. Pick up pen.
6:22 a.m.: Resume staring.
6:28 a.m.: Stand up.
6:28 a.m.: Sit back down.
6:45 a.m.: Read a bit of what you wrote yesterday, to “get your rhythm.”
6:47 a.m.: Begin to question why you ever thought you could write a book. Hell, you can barely read a book. You must be an overly ambitious moron. Yesterday’s writing was crap. Feel panicky. Drink coffee.
6:50 a.m.: Let active self-loathing begin.
7:30 a.m.: Begin displacement behaviors to reduce feeling of despair. Email. Blog. Read blogs. Read writers who inspire you. Become depressed that you will never be half the novelist Tolstoy was. Hell, you can’t even be half the coffee drinker that Balzac was. Loser.
7:48 a.m.: Realize Art Is Dead, or at least, Art Is Not Familiar With Your House, And Will Not Be Stopping By.
7:50 a.m.: Resume active self-loathing. Alternate with staring, if it makes you feel better. Get more coffee.
Repeat entire cycle until your will is broken, your nerves snap, or you are filled with a fatalistic nihilism. Or until re-runs of Flashpoint come on. (Why Flashpoint? Because nobody shoots at you while you are trying to write a book. Feel good by comparison momentarily.) Or until you can justify a nap. As a last resort, justify your stopping by doing household chores.
Are you starting to get the picture? Somewhere in there, I scribble down some words–sometimes good, sometimes bad. How does it happen? I don’t know–I don’t even know what the book is about. (Seriously, are you even paying attention?)
But, thanks for asking. Now don’t ever ask again.