I sat down this morning to write this blog and I found I had nothing really to say. It’s not because I’ve run out of words, or God forbid, opinions, it’s simply that I’m so preoccupied with other stuff it’s hard to articulate anything else. I’m in the middle of a ridiculously tight deadline and know I have another tight one waiting as soon as this one is done. So there might be a light at the end of the tunnel but frankly I’m just wandering around in the dark.
When I first started writing seriously, I knew I needed to work to deadlines – I needed to practice. I’d heard lots of published authors say that and so I made self-imposed deadlines and I forced myself to work to a schedule. It was challenging, but nothing ever happened to me if I didn’t make those deadlines. I almost always did, but there were no consequences if I did not. And I’m here to tell you that while I don’t think self-imposed deadlines are futile, but they certainly did not prepare me for real, in the flesh, turn-it-in-or-else deadlines. Frankly, I’m not sure anything can. And it has only gotten worse since I became a mom because now I don’t have the luxury of writing all-day.
This business can be wonderful and rewarding and a myriad of many other wonderful things, but it is also extremely stressful. I was put on blood pressure medicine while on my first deadline, I’ve had full-blown panic attacks, cried more tears than I can count and been dangerously close to rocking myself in a corner. So if writing is this harrowing, why in the world would we ever want to do it?
The easy answer, because we can’t NOT write. I would imagine at some point in our careers, each Quill has thrown up the arms and said, “I quit!” I know I have. Twice (well, maybe three times.) I quit because I just couldn’t take it anymore. Each time I’ve quit, it’s lasted about a day. I won’t go so far as to say, it’s who I am, because I believe I’m much more than just my career. But writing is a huge part of me, it’s something I’ve always done, and it is something I’ll always do. I simply can’t walk away. (I tried sorta after we got the girls, but I just couldn’t quit…)
Despite the heavy stress, I love this job. Even in the midst of my deadline-induced delirium, as I sat at my love-seat, earbuds in, writing frantically while my girls buzzed played around me – it hit me: I am a writer. Even after all these years and so many books, sometimes that revelation hits and I marvel a little at it. It still gives my heart a little flip (and the good kind, not the bad kind – although it has done that too). I love this job. I don’t love everything about it. In fact there are aspects that I down right hate. I spend more time loathing the books I’m working on than I ever do feeling proud of my accomplishments. Still I love this job. I’ve always said that a bad writing day is better than a perfect day at any other job.
I get books with my name on them (and the covers are so pretty!) I get to create worlds where wrongs get right and average geeky girls win hunky men who can’t keep their hands off them. I get to meet readers who’ve read my books and loved them. I get to use words like plucky and rippling and gooseflesh. I get to write books full of trials and growth and strengths and weaknesses and passion and happy endings and all the other things that make life so worthwhile. And today in the midst of this tight deadline while I’m loathing this particular book, I wanted to celebrate that.