Warning: this is a no-edit zone…
2nd Warning: I’m typing blind, so please pardon errors and read in the spirit written, not the form…
No one likes to have their routine or rhythm interrupted. It’s disturbing, throws a person off-stride, irritates and annoys. And then things get really nasty because other obligations don’t go away, good fairies don’t sweep in and take care of everything, and the disabled person watches her clear desktop disappear and “Do me Next” piles appear and multiply and she can’t do one thing about any of it.
The first few days are the roughest because you’re still geared into keeping up with everything. Production, promotion, email and other correspondence, research and workshops. You try to work anyway, but soon discover that you just can’t do it. Then anger and resentment set in, and eventually you work around to resignation. I wish I could say that this is a graceful acceptance, but the truth is that it is not. It is resignation-on-demand and not by choice, and there’s additional resentment at that. “I’m a good person. I work hard, try to help others when I can, do my best to live a life with purpose and all this ‘stuff’ happens to me that I can’t control and I’m sick to death of it. I’m sick to death of being sick.”
That is a more accurate depiction of the process. However, when railing against the injustices in life does absolutely nothing to improve the situation–in fact, it grows worse–resentment can’t get any stronger, and so other things–ones that you have slowed down long enough (by force, yes, but still you’ve slowed down) to notice capture your attention and your concentration.
And you begin to think, to ponder things you’ve not stopped to ponder for a while. You find other ways to communicate, other ways to work, if only in your mind. And you find yourself working on other things–things you have neglected for some time or never before considered. You even find yourself reconsidering and redefining that which you thought was steadfast and certain and it hits you that this interruption has given you an opportunity. One to pause, reflect, reconsider. An opportunity to change something significant.
The resentment falls to the discovery. The interruption provides a new vista. And grateful, if not graceful, acceptance swells. You finally relax, stop worrying and have faith that everything will work out exactly as it is supposed to work out, and accept that this interruption too has purpose. And then something magical happens. It’s as if your receptors open wide because you’ll be doing something totally unrelated to anything (like sitting in a rocking chair with an empty mind) and suddenly a title pops into your head. You whisper it, letting the syllables roll over your tongue. It interests you, and you repeat it aloud. And in a flash the entire story is clear in your mind. The premise, the characters, the events–and the purpose.
It isn’t a story you would have written without the interruption, and yet there is something indistinctly you in it. Something that nudges you, niggles way down deep that this IS your story to tell.
In raw form, you pitch it to your critique partner, unsure of her reaction, which sets your teeth on edge. She loves it; suggests you develop it. You then pitch it to a trusted friend with a closed mouth and keen eye. She gets chills; says go for it. You pitch it to a second trusted friend (it’s so different, you need the affirmation before further investing), and that feedback too is overwhelmingly positive. So with raw form vetted, you pitch to your agent, and again get a green light with a little caveat.
All systems are go, and because this isn’t your usual, it’s also open to being worked on in unusual for you ways. And so you do. You think, you run the movie of it in your mind. You work, but also play, and your limitation brought on by life’s interruption doesn’t seem so limiting anymore. In a sense, it’s liberating.
You ponder that for a time–the liberation–and realize that you’ve been functioning in a rut. You’ve been less enthused and more intent on just getting this-or-that done. You also realize that you’ve been writing more someone else’s vision than your own, and because you have, you’ve enjoyed the work far less and witnessed the magic in it being tamped.
More wake-up calls. And more and more.
And none of them would have had the opportunity to surface had life not interrupted.
I guess the moral of this little post is that sometimes you need to not see to see things most clearly. I guess we need those life interruptions to encourage us to stop and take stock and revisit what we are doing and why, and to either determine our commitment to what we’re doing or change things so that we can again be committed.
While I’m still in my little life interruption–predictions are two weeks more–I’m convinced that there are more lessons to be learned in it. For me, the interruption was a little eye surgery complicated by an abrasion. The abrasion requires antibiotic ointment that knocks out vision in my left eye. It’s healing, but not yet healed. The right eye is healing from surgery. (This is what happens when goggles worn to bed to protect your eyes slip during sleep and scratch the good eye.) Anyway, I’ll be back to normal in short order. For that, I am grateful.
But I am also grateful for the interruption. It’s enabled me to take a look at my life and work and reassess. It’s enabled me to recommit to the writing and writing only with purpose. It’s given me the time and incentive to think.
Isn’t it strange? Sometimes you have to temporarily lose your sight to see most clearly…
12/2005 WAR GAMES #5, DOUBLE DARE
1/2006: ONE WAY TO WRITE A NOVEL
2/2006: IT GIRLS #6, BULLETPROOF PRINCESS
3/2006: THE PROPHET’S LADY
4/2006: HER PERFECT LIFE
6/2006: COMMON SENSE GUIDE FOR WRITERS
RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Romantic Suspense Novel of the Year
RT Reviewer’s Choice Best Romantic Intrigue Novel of the Year