Someone once told me that it’s harder to STAY published than it is to GET published. At the time, I thought, “Oh, pish-posh, what drivel. That’s not going to happen to MEEEE!”
(If this were an episode of The Office, I’d look straight at the camera and give one of those knowing, deadpan smiles perfected by Jim Halpert.)
Right now, at this very moment, an editorial team is deciding the fate of my work-in-progress. The sophomore novel-to-be. Because the proposal is with the editor I worked with on Driving Sideways, I only wrote 110 pages before handing it over. If this novel is given the green light, I will be finishing it with the keen insights of my editor. If this novel is NOT given the green light, I will still be finishing it, but first I will need to spend several days completely prone on the couch, eating Funyuns in my pajamas.
(Which reminds me of one of the best Onion headlines ever: “Funyuns Still Outselling Responsibilityuns.” Gets me every time.)
So, while I wait, the plan is to continue working on it. Trouble is, I’m incredibly anxious. Jumpy, even. It would now be easier to thread a needle with a garden hose than it would be to actually meet a daily page goal. Unless that daily page goal includes grocery lists, birthday cards to relatives, and insecure emails to friends.
(Oh! I just got a text. Hang on.)
I may be developing adult-onset attention deficit disorder, or perhaps I’m just turning into my mother. She called me recently while driving home from work to discuss an upcoming family reunion when she suddenly blurted, “Oh, there’s a dead deer! Poor thing. Which reminds me. I should tell you I got my hair cut.”
While I wait for the verdict and gnaw my fingernails to shreds, my writing process has completely disintegrated. But I only have one more month of golden writing time before heading back to my day job, so I need to focus. Butt, meet chair. You’re not leaving until you give me at least four good pages a day.
It always comes back to discipline. (I know. How fun is that?) You have to find a way to introduce your muse to your inner drill sergeant and just get to it. Right now, my inner drill sergeant is shouting, “You think you’re anxious? You should be so lucky! Try waking up in the Sudan or Afghanistan. Get your fingers on that keyboard and give me twenty! Good sentences!” And my muse is clearing her throat. “Okay now, you can do this. You convinced your husband to see Midnight in Paris with you last Friday, didn’t you? And he hates Woody Allen! Just close your eyes and pretend you’re falling asleep. You get your best ideas then. No! You’re driving! When you get even better ideas! Okay, wait--I have it: you’re falling asleep while driving. There. Go! Go write, now!”
Speaking of which, it’s nearly two-thirty. After I figure out why my dog is making this strange wheezing sound, and I get an ice cream sandwich and see what the squirrels are up to in the backyard, and check my e-mail, I’m totally going to get started writing.
When Jess Riley isn't blogging with the Girlfriends, she can be found blowing small things way out of proportion here.