Today I’ve lit a new candle, washed my hair, reorganized my files, prayed, stood on my head, made coffee, made tea, made a gross diet shake, washed my hands twenty-six times and wiped everything in my office down with alcohol. I keep waiting for them to come out with an industrial sized Purell with a hose attachment (Ghostbusters style), but apparently they don’t think that the Obsessive Compulsive market is worth targeting. Probably becasue we don’t leave the house too much.
The thing is, I’m way, way, way overdue on my deadline for the revisions on my novel, Pretty, which is scheduled to come out next spring. I wasn’t able to complete it before starting the insane press for Some Girls, so I had to take a break and focus on promoting for a couple of months.
Now my back is against the wall and I’m having a hell of a time time transitioning from marketing mode to creative mode. The thing about transitions is that they never feel clean. I want to have some epic psychic Master Cleanse and I’ve tried everything I can think of to facilitate this, but every morning I still wake up wracked with anxiety and distracted by a million zinging thoughts and unable to find the kind of focus that it takes for me to write anything longer than a blog post.
So right now I’ll wash my hands one last time and then I’ll try to reconcile myself with the fact that there were ten places that my hands picked up germs in between the sink and the keyboard. Because I’m not a surgeon; I’m a writer. Nobody dies if things get messy.
And as I ask my doubt and anxiety to kindly step aside for a few hours so I can get some work done, I will try to keep in mind this beautiful passage from Steve Almond’s “One Over Forty” essay at The Rumpus:
Your job as a fiction writer is to focus on your characters, and to ignore – to the extent you can – the rest of the bullshit…
But the real life of a writer resides in showing up at the keyboard every day, with the necessary patience and mercy, and making the best decisions you can on behalf of your people. It’s a slow process. It often feels hopeless, more like an affliction than an art form.
Most of us will have to find our readers one by one, in other words, and against considerable resistance. If anything qualifies us as heroic, it’s that private perpetual struggle.
Put down the magazine, soldier. Forget about the other guy. Remember who you are.