Friday, August 28, 2015

If it's August it Must be...

No significance whatsoever to thumbtack in New York

I'm still struggling with the fact that it's August.

I was going to write about the weirdness of the month, but who am I kidding? It's the weirdness of the year--and more weirdness ahead. This has been a year of many changes. And it's not so much that I planned for them as they just seemed to come upon me. Me and the Lady of Shalott.

I seriously underestimated how distracting and time-consuming--all consuming--this move would be. Because it's not just about where I hang my hat. Buying a new house at this point in my life is kind of commitment to...well maybe not forever, but a foreseeable future. It has to do with long term financial decisions, which by default have to do with long term creative decisions.

Many, many changes. And while I am eager for them, embracing them, change is a tiring thing. Change is movement, and movement requires energy, and energy is not inexhaustible. That's not a revelation, or it shouldn't be, but yet it always comes as a shock to me that I can't do as much as I think I can.

I'm a slow learner on that point.

Anyway, Jefferson Blythe, Esquire is now in lines. So that's exciting because as usual, when I'm in the rough draft phase I always believe I can never possibly finish the book. Maybe some day it will be true. It is weird how much I LOATHE writing during the phase of rough draft. I mean hate it with a passion.

Which is funny given that in the dreaming, planning stage, I am totally in love with writing and the book and the characters. Then it begins. Then I hate the book, the characters, writing, my life, whoever the hell got me into this, etc. It is effing torture. I am not exaggerating. I hate writing a rough draft. Some more than others, but always without fail, I hate writing a rough draft.

Nearly as much as I love the initial planning and dreaming about the book. And nearly as much as I love the editing process.

During the rough draft phase, I feel like English is a second language. I feel like I'm brain damaged. And then comes editing. And suddenly I speak English again. Suddenly I've made a miraculous recovery and I remember how the world -- and words -- work.

It's pretty weird. And I don't know that it works for most writers like this. I do know that it has not been a spectacularly productive year for me. But life is settling down again. Sort of. Still plenty to come. Scotland, for one thing. Cannot. Wait. As much as I dread traveling.

Next year will be a very different year for a lot of reasons, but I feel good about it. I feel calm. Fatalistic? I don't know.

Anyway, on Monday I'm doing a joint multi-part blog with my writing chum L.B. Gregg called THIS IS NOT YOUR MOTHER'S PUBLISHING CAREER, wherein we discuss how much things have changed in today's vibrant and competitive (AKA enormously stressful) publishing environment). It's not so much that we have great advice for anyone because what advice can anyone give in a tornado beyond HOLD ON!!! This is the new normal.

We'll start out over at Love Bytes, continue the conversation at L.B.'s and finish up over here. Your comments and insights are encouraged!


  1. September is good. Yes, September is going to be swell. There's UK Meet and you going to Scotland and all kinds of exciting things. :-)

    And about change: I've adopted the five-year-wisdom from my colleague. It works for both worry and change. If you feel like the change you're about to make in your life is going to make your life better, happier place to be in five years — make the change happen. It'll be worth it.

    Oh yes, change is exhausting. You have to build new, adapt to new ways and at the same time let go of the old. Not an easy thing to do especially if this happens often and in many fields of one's life at the same time. But when I look back into my life, I think there came a lot, A LOT of good out of the big changes in my life. Granted, sometimes it didn't feel that way at the moment of change, only afterwards.

    I always find it fascinating when you tell us about your writing process. And I found it funny (sorry!!!) that during the rough draft phase you feel like English is your second language. Congratulations on getting JBE in lines and getting back your mother tongue! :-D

    I'm looking forward to see what you and L.B. are up to on Monday. That sounds like a great idea — joint forces!

    Enjoy your weekend, Josh. May it be full of smiles and refreshing swimming. :-)

    1. So much happening in September. And because it's such an action-packed month, I look at my calendar and even though we're not actually IN September, I feel like the month is half over! :-D

      I am not someone who typically loves change. I can happily stay in my little rut for ages. But once the decision to move occurs, then I don't stop until I've uprooted nearly every tree in the forest!

      I don't like change, but once I start moving, I can't stop.

  2. Oh my gosh, THANK YOU. You just described, in detail, my own experiences with the writing process. My writing partner LOVES rough drafts. She gets on a total high. I struggle to put five words together. It's misery. "Brain dead"--ha! Yep... But planning and editing are so much fun. :)

    1. Yes! Some people adore that rough draft period. They write loads and loads of words and they don't mind digressing here, wandering off track there. It's part of their process.

      There's no such thing as a "wrong" creative process. I wish mine was more joyful. Sadly, working in a coal mine would be preferable to me some days.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. I'm mostly a technical writer, but I feel the opposite. The planning phase is a necessary evil, but I love writing the first draft. Perhaps I enjoy the verbal vomit that is the first draft--it lets me remember that I actually know something about which I'm writing. I also love editing the final manuscript; it feels like polishing a gemstone.

    Change. You can't escape it. You might as well pitch in and get it over with. My 89 year old dad hated computers and smart phones (odd for a scientist). He probably would have had a fit had he known that we Skyped in the children and grandchildren to his memorial service so they didn't have to be there in person. Keep changing and keep living in the present so no one has to feel bad when they Skype your kids in at your funeral.

  5. I am so glad you are able to push your way through the rough draft phase. I am glad everything is starting to settle down into place for you. I hope your trip to Scotland is a wonderful, fascinating time for you. I also hope we get to hear about it. Much happiness to you for the rest of the year and beyond!

  6. How can you loathe travel! HOW?! It's ... it's an adventure. And, since you'll be with me, you'll be lucky to make it back with a nickel left in your pocket. :D The first rule of travel: pack half of what you think you need and twice as much money.

    I hate first drafts. I feel as if I'm standing too close to a photo to take in the entire picture. Does that make sense? I can't see the book until edits.