During the past few months I have been slowly dropping all but the most important obligation of my life: finishing the next novel. One of those things dropped—I prefer to think of them as simply put aside—is this blog. And balancing my checking account, writing my monthly column, singing in the local chorus, and being social. This isn’t to say that all those unoccupied hours have been filled exclusively with writing, not at all. But, what abandoning these obligations does is to free my mind. By that I mean, if I don’t have to think of how to fulfill a commitment, I can use that time to think about what the main character is going to do next– instead of what I’m going to put in my next column. Even pleasurable duties begin to strain the energy source until they are more duty than pleasure.
I am a very regimented person. I get up at a specific time, read for a specific amount of time, then focus on the writing. If I have other writing assignments, I am immediately thrust into the position of having to rebalance my day. How much time on the novel, how much on the column, or the blog, or even Facebook? Given that I only have a small amount of writing time in any day, how to serve all these masters? The simplest answer was, not to. I dropped everything except the most daunting master of them all…and finally typed the figurative words “The End” to it last week. Ah, but that’s not the end. The end of the story isn’t the end of the work. It’s the new beginning. Now that the manuscript has been delivered—by the magic of email, a hard copy is no longer mailed to an editor who loves her e-reader—I await the next level of task, the revisions. I’d like to think that, like writers in the movies, a finished manuscript is all but print ready. Not so. I sit here and expect that my editor will come back to me with a long list of observations and suggestions that will improve the story vastly. (I’d really like to sit here and think that she’ll love it so much all that’s left is the line editing, but I’ve been in this business too long to believe that particular fantasy has a snowball’s chance in the netherworld.) So, in the meantime, I will catch up with all the neglected obligations that don’t actually go away, but lie in wait for me. Like this blog (fun). And doing laundry (not so much fun.) Some I will keep off my plate until after the final, final, ultimate, ready for the covers, nothing left to do but read it, ‘the end.’ Things like balancing my check book.