I want to preface this post with a disclaimer: I love, love, love my job. This is not me lamenting my work. It’s me lamenting my own brain. Despite the woe-is-me nature of this post, I know how lucky I am to do what I do. There’s no way I’d rather make a living than by reading books.
Well, except for writing them.
When you read books for a living, you’re on a perpetual journey of bouncing from one world to another. Each world has its own unique inhabitants, language, and rule of law, and when the heroic adventure comes to an end, it’s off to another world and another story, much like an episodic space opera.
But I’m also a writer, and somewhere out there in the universe—lightyears away, it seems—are my own worlds under various stages of construction.
It’s odd. I know how to disengage from a strange new planet so that I can instantly assimilate to another, but for some reason the trip back to one of my own worlds takes much longer. In other words, when the workday is done, I find that I struggle to dive into my own works in progress. My mind simply refuses to leave the story I’m currently reading.
Maybe it’s because I feel like I would be muddying the waters, not giving a manuscript my undivided attention. Or maybe it’s because I’m reading with an editorial mindset and I can’t switch to a creative mindset on a whim. It’s also possible that I’m simply procrastinating.
I don’t know how other writers operate, but to immerse myself in a world I’m creating feels like juggling. You start with three pins, then add another, and another, and another, until finally you’re juggling the whole of the story in your head. You’re living inside it now. You can feel it. You can see it. You can hear it. And the writing feels right.
Then there’s a knock at the door–an interruption, a sudden obligation, a scheduled responsibility–and it all comes crashing down.
It takes me days to get to a point where I feel like my neurotic conscious mind has gone to sleep and my subconscious mind has stepped forth to put something true and real and authentic on the page. Days of silencing my phone, closing the curtains, staring off into space to daydream, and finally achieving that glorious, elusive moment I so strongly desire: I’m not just writing but writing having forgotten that I’m writing.
The flow state. The zone. Whatever you want to call it. The experience of feeling like your writing is good.
Whether this is a genuine struggle or I’m just making excuses for myself, I sometimes feel like my collection of unfinished projects are floating away into the cold and infinite dark. Maybe this is something all writers can relate to on some level, since life has a tendency to get in the way.
I suppose this has been a long, melodramatic declaration that, finances permitting, I would like to take a vacation sometime later this year, with the goal of finishing a novel. In order to do that, I need to put in some extra hours, so you might find me being a bit more aggressive in the promotion of my query and manuscript critique services on social media, particularly with quick-turnaround work like queries, query packages, and partial manuscripts, the revenue from which will go into a savings that might make this vacation possible.
I have no idea if it’ll happen, but there it is. Hashtag writer’s life.
And shoutout to all you writers who somehow manage to put words on the page amidst the chaos of life and while bearing much more responsibility than I do. Mad respect.