Last night I started writing my third book in thirteen months. That's a lot of writing. When I finished my second novel a couple of weeks ago, I promised myself I would take a little time off before I began the next one. Maybe catch up on some reading, spend time with the family, focus my attention on school, clean the house. It's gotten rather dusty in here over the past few months!
When I'm deep into the writing process...everything else falls by the wayside. And I can't afford to do that right now! I have three children, two graduate classes, tons of homework, an internship, tutoring, book signings, meetings. I don't have time to get sucked into another imaginary world of my own creation. And that's exactly what's happening. Again. Quite by accident.
I'm blaming the waitress for this one.
On my way home from grad class last night, I decided to stop by Eli's Kitchen for some chowder. I sat at the bar, quietly reading a magazine while the air around me buzzed with conversation. The restaurant was packed and my stomach was grumbling, enticed by the delicious smells wafting from the kitchen. I've never minded going places alone. Restaurants, movies, plays, concerts, traveling to new places. I'm pretty good company! But once in a while I get a little lonely as I watch the couples around me, interacting, sharing stories, sharing their lives. That niggling sense of loneliness was creeping toward me last night.
And then the waitress approached me.
She smiled and asked if I was the author who was in the restaurant a few weeks ago. "Did you write What if I Fly?" she asked. My eyes flew open, taken aback. I didn't remember her serving me, nor do I remember discussing my book with anyone at the restaurant, but somehow she knew. So I said yes, and she was so excited! She told me she bought my book the next morning and read it in two days, gushing how much she loved my story and couldn't wait for the sequel.
I thanked her and sat back against my bar stool, staring into the kitchen and then broke my promise to myself. No need to feel lonely, I thought as I rifled through my bag and pulled out the Moleskin notebook I keep with me at all times (just in case). There are people to be met inside my head! How convenient! I opened the blank notebook and stared at the empty page for all of thirty seconds before putting pen to paper and another story was born. I had a very loose concept for my third book brewing in my head, but as I sat there, the story unfolded on its own, and before I knew it I'd become acquainted with a whole family of characters. I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by new friends and family. In the space of an hour, I'd been sucked into the vortex of this new world, already consumed with their lives.
Something has taken hold of me. I'm possessed by the writing demons. It's as if I'm trying to reach the light at the end of the tunnel, only to discover the tunnel never ends. There is always another story to be written, more characters to create. And when I'm not writing a story...I feel kind of lost. Purposeless. And anxious. I have forgotten how to relax! I'm beginning to think I've forgotten how to truly live.
Do I write at the expense of my own life or does writing enrich it? I don't know anymore. Writing is a solitary process but the product I create is for the masses. It means a lot to me to know my stories bring enjoyment to others. But I'm not getting any younger. I've stayed out of the dating game for the past couple of years. I mean...why bother dating when I can write a better romance than I've experienced in reality? The simple answer is...I can love what I write, but it can never love me back. What I'm writing isn't real.
My goal this time around is to achieve balance between fantasy and reality. It may take me four months to write this book (versus the two it normally takes) but I've got some living of my own to do, and only one way to do it. Close this computer and get to it.