Wednesday, April 30, 2014
By K D Grace
I’m just finishing up a major manuscript, a labour of love that I’ve been working on for five years. That being the case, I suppose I’m being more obsessive than usual because this manuscript is close to my heart. Lately my routine has been pretty simple. I write. Actually I’m editing in at this stage, but for me editing has never been a hardship. It’s a part of writing and I love it as much as I do a first draft. I write all day ignoring pretty much everything that doesn’t grab me by the ear and drag me bodily, kicking and cursing, away from the laptop. My husband comes home in the evenings and we have dinner together then catch up on the day’s events. After that, I go back to work…writing. Several hours later, I shut down the computer and shuffle off to bed already thinking about how soon tomorrow I can clear the decks and get back to work…writing.
It hit me the other day that as this manuscript has been a long time coming, and it’s something I’m extremely proud of, maybe I should plan to celebrate its completion. Maybe we should go out for dinner or have a nice bottle of fizz or go away for the weekend or something. But then I think about the next project already tempting me like a bright red cherry ready to be plucked off the Story Tree and devoured. Isn’t starting a new novel celebration enough, I ask myself?
Celebrating can be so disruptive, and so often not nearly as much fun as… well, writing. Okay, being on the final press to finish a manuscript makes me even more obsessive than usual, but I’m just having so damn much fun!
When I finish this manuscript, my husband will, quick like a bunny, pack lunches into the rucksacks, make up a flask of tea and prepare water bottles. He knows our window of opportunity is slim. He has to get me slathered with sunscreen, dressed in walking clothes, and out the door before I decide that next cherry of a novel just won’t wait to be plucked. But he’s good. He’s really good. He has me kitted up and out the door before I can give that novel a second thought. Of course by the end of the day, for the last couple of miles, I’m thinking about… you know … writing!
I’ve been thinking a lot about the writing obsession. People who don’t have it are always saying I should celebrate my successes or I should take a break, or I shouldn’t work so hard. They just don’t get it. Writing is NOT a means to an end. It IS the end. The story that we writers are inspired to put down is never-ending. And it’s just as well because what on earth would we do with our time if we couldn’t write? It isn’t just important that I get on with the next project as soon as I get the last one out the door; it’s essential. I get really twitchy, and very bad-tempered if I don’t. It’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey, and the journey is every word I write, every idea that pushes its way out of my head onto the written page, every rewrite, every edit, ever improvement. The journey is about all of my characters and the unfolding of their stories, which always involve the unfolding of the stories of the characters who affect them. The journey is about the on-going back-story that is forever being revealed in my head. It’s about all the things I know about my characters and their lives that no one else knows – no one else will ever know because it never gets on the page. But I know. I know secrets, and I wait with bated breath for even more secrets to be revealed, whether I’m allowed to share them or not.
Is it an obsession? Oh yes. Do I want the cure? Hell no! Am I afraid I’ll run out of stuff to write? Never! What I am afraid of is that I’ll run out of time to write the stuff that’s already in my head!
The truth of the matter is that what I do to celebrate my writing successes is write. What I do for recreation is write, what I do when I’m not writing is think about writing. Actually, you may not know this, but you are all participating, right this very moment, in my celebration party! So, grab a glass of wine, a pint, a Margarita, whatever the drink of choice is and raise it with me as we toast, not the destination, but the totally fabulous journey that is writing! On second thought, if you’re a fellow writer, just grab a pen and paper or sit down with your laptop and write something. If you’re an avid reader, grab the latest by your favourite author and as you read, remember, you’re participating in their celebration, so cheers!