Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Thing I Wish the Non-Writers in My Life Knew

So, I'm in the weeds, writing my second book for Harper Teen. While Rites of Passage only took me six weeks to draft, this book has taken a year. Each book is different, so I'm not horribly upset about the process, but there's a difference between being a writer and being a writer in the middle of creating.

For me, the act of drafting is the most mentally intense time. I love it, don't get me wrong, but I get immersed in drafting. I can write for hours a day, 4,000 or 5,000 words a day, sometimes even more. That means most, if not all, of my brain is consumed with creating.

In short, this is tiring.

I forget to eat. Sometimes sleep doesn't happen. Permission slips and RSVPs for school happenings--they're not on my radar. Showers, forget about it.

When I am in the process of creating, everything, and I do mean everything else falls by the wayside. My husband picks up the slack--he feeds Thing One and Thing Two, and Dog One and Dog Two. He makes sure there is food on the table, that I actually go to sleep at some point--sometimes on the couch because we both know it won't last long or I'll be too restless to let him sleep.

I have descriptions running through my head non-stop. I've got characters beating at my imaginary doors trying to get out. Imaginary conversations are taking place all the time.

While I'm driving, while I'm eating, while I'm playing with my kids or walking the dogs--I'm 97% focused on my story, even if I'm not at my computer. I only half-hear things people say, and if I don't write something I have to do on my calendar immediately, I'm going to forget it and there's no way I'll remember it on the day of.

Does this all-consuming make me a bad person? I hope not.

But I may seem like a bad person. My communication is slow, of not non-existent. E-mails can go unanswered for weeks, I may miss a dentist appointment, I may forget what the outside world feels like. I may have to run lunch to a Thing when I was too distracted to make sure it got into the backpack that morning.

Here's the thing, and this isn't an excuse, or an apology, it's just the way I work: I don't mean to put everything else on the back counter. The phone calls from my mom that I ignore--I'm not doing it to be mean or put her off. It's just...the story is so present, taking up so much of my mind, that it's hard to communicate with anyone.

I know it's a short-coming, and I'm working on it, but if you've ever tried to communicate with an author and you think we've forgotten or we're ignoring you on purpose, I promise, we're not.

We just might be in the act of creating.

And while it's amazing and beautiful, it's a hard place to be. Six weeks was hard. Being this way for a year, as I've been with The Harder You Fall, is exhausting.

But it'll be done soon, and I'll start communicating again soon.

I'll be human again soon. I'll get to be social (in a non-awkward-writer kind of way).

I can't wait!

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