Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Not Wanting To Start (and Not Wanting Guilt)

The next book in the series is sold, but I’m not ready to start writing yet.

Normally, I love the pressure of the deadline. I’m one of those writers who thrive on impending due dates and multiple responsibilities. Fear is a great motivator for me. All I need to inspire me is a post-it note proclaiming: Due on August 1!

Most of the time.

Maybe it’s the weather or perhaps the change of season, but I just don’t want to write. I want to snuggle under a blanket and read a good book. I want to veg out in front of the TV. with the latest DVDs of Battlestar Galactica. I want to sleep with a fat, warm cat napping on my chest.

I could brush off these desires and write them off as typical writer-avoiding-writing. But I also believe that a writer needs a little time for living, a little time, as Alan Steele once called it, for “in-take.” Especially when you’ve been doing a lot of output, it makes sense to make time for reading and living. One of the things we’ve talked about on this blog (and in my Loft class last night) is the question of where ideas come from. The truth of the matter is I think a lot of professional writers worry about running out of ideas because when they’re rushing from one deadline to another, there’s very little room to breathe, much less live – and it’s in the living that ideas have their most fertile ground. It’s those quiet contemplative moments when images collide (which is why I think a lot of people find inspiration in dreams. It’s at least six, seven or more hours for your subconscious to rest, to play. A luxury of time we don’t often allow ourselves in our waking hours.) It’s also when we interact with our culture – and by this I don’t mean anything snooty, I mean, by watching TV, movies, listening to the radio, and reading – that we open up a dialogue with other writers and creators, all of which fuel the idea machine in our heads.

If you don’t put your pen down from time to time, you deny the idea-machine a well deserved moment to restock.

So, I’m going to veg, and try to not feel guilty about it. I plan to take a break from writing until October 1. In that time I’m going to tackle the pile of books that are sitting in my “to read” bookshelf. I’m going to watch some butt-kicking SF TV, and I’m going to take long walks in the fading summer glory and I’m going to nap (proudly!)


jpj said...

I've read (somewhere) that there is no physical reason to sleep. Only warm-blooded animals sleep, cold-blooded reptiles, amphibians, fish don't sleep, they just go through rest periods but remain conscious.

So, sleep is needed for our brains, not our bodies. We sleep to let our minds process what we've learned and stretch out in different directions.

So you can legitimately sleep and call it work.

shawn e. said...

what are you reading? must be good if it can tear you away from battlestar!

Erik Buchanan said...

That sounds so nice!


Oh, well, maybe once the deadlines are met.

tate said...

Nothing can tear me away from my Battlestar Galati-crack. We just started watching last night, and I was such a junkie I said to Shawn (my partner)... "Aw, come on, just one more. You know you want to!"