A week ago Sunday I went through my manuscript one final time. Be saying final, that means I am no longer making substantive changes, or I’m bored with going over and over and over the same thing, which means I am in need of other eyes.
I ran the text through my spell and grammar checker, thereby taking out some word repetitions, popped in or took out commas, found two spelling mistakes (phew!) saved the changes, and pushed the button that caused the text to be sent. A year’s work. Done. Until my editor gets back to me.
“You should take the day off,” my wife suggested. I did, sort of. Did some needful house stuff. I felt guilty—because I need to start a new book that will be due shortly.
On Tuesday I knew I should start that book, but I found other things to do, including getting my mail (and water) which is twelve miles distant, and the roads were icy. Did that. (My wife drove) Also did two Skypes with classes. Found something irrelevant to read, only to find it boring. Bad writing irritates me. “I can do better.” Vanity as a goad.
This morning I lay abed thinking, I must start that book. I was reminded of an old college gag: ”Next week I’m going to stop procrastinating.”
But as I thought about it I realized I was nervous about starting this new book. Had I done enough research? Do I understand how I want the story to work? Have I thought enough about the protagonist? Should I pursue that thread? This thread? Will it all be too strong? Or will it be weak? Will it be too shocking for my readers, my reviewers, for me? Can I meet the expectations of my editor? She is strong on my idea. But she bought an idea, not a book.
I got up. I did the dishes from last night’s dinner. That helps me think, I told myself. I wrote back to a couple of kids who had written to me.
Sit down and start! Was it the angel on my left shoulder who was saying that softly, or the devil on my right shoulder screaming into my ear?
Maybe a chorus.
I cheated: I put down the first line of the book (important!) I had thought of a few weeks ago. A good first line is like a key to a lock. It worked. I began to write.
First chapter (crude) written. Okay, the writing feels comfortable. Not great, Will be (future tense) a good first chapter. But I need to … the fingers moved over the keyboard well … keep going…
The life of a writer is a mix of love of writing and words, habit, and telling a story you would like to hear.