This is how I feel when someone interrupts me while I’m in the middle of a new book. Now, I don’t mean something like asking if I need anything from the store, or bringing me dinner. I’m talking about the big interruptions. The kind that break my stride for days at a time.
I have no idea how others do it. All too often, I hear about writers who work full time (I’m a part-time day-jobber and full-time author). They go in for the 8-5 job, slave away, come home, take care of their families, and try to sneak in an hour at the keyboard. To all of you: You’re miraculous!
Seriously. If I don’t get a bare 4-hour minimum without distraction, I turn into a beast. I’m snappy, crass, and all around no fun to be around. Keep me from writing for days on end? Yeah, that probably means I just added another novel to the “well, maybe I’ll finish it one day” file. I can’t do it. I just can’t keep the thought process and excitement up that makes for a good book. It ends up feeling disjointed, I’m distracted, and then writing becomes a chore.
The only way I have to describe it to non-writers is that it’s like me trying to tell you a story one sentence at a time. Imagine how well you’d follow along if I just emailed you a single line every day. It’d take weeks to get through the first page, and years to finish the novel. But, without cutting and pasting it all together, how easy is it going to be for YOU, the reader, to keep up with what’s going on? And for you, it’s being GIVEN. Imagine how it is for the creator, trying to keep track of things like shirt colors, timelines, and villain progression. Mistakes are bound to happen. Extra work has just been piled onto the editing. And to keep the mood? To push that excitement, enthusiasm, terror, or any other tone that is supposed to suffuse the chapter? Completely impossible.
And the people around us never understand. They think it’s like writing a book report. Just type it out, slap some BS on there, and it’ll be the next best seller, making us all a million dollars, and we’ll be able to vanish on a whirlwind book tour, right? Uh, no.
First, I don’t want to be famous. Second, I take pride in my craft, not my income. Third, I hate humans in large packs, so a book tour is equivalent to hell in my mind. A vacation to me is a good book that I didn’t write and a fresh cup of coffee beside a pool (iced, if it’s summer). I want to write a best seller because that’s a way of showing progress, not because I plan on changing my life any. I’m already walking the line between paying all my bills with books and not becoming a recluse. I work 2 days a week because, well, my boss is my best friend and I get some amazing ideas for characters this way.
I still want to keep the books coming out. I still want to make a little more money each month so the budget is a bit less tight. I still want to be the best author I can be, and enjoy losing myself in lives that have never existed. I don’t care if anyone else understands (I lie. I care in as much as it means people leave me alone!), I just want to write, because it’s one thing I’m passionate about, and it makes me happy.
What I hate is losing the line of a story. I almost mourn its death as I feel the rush of impulsion fading into the ether. As the impetuous ebbs, the “thing” that makes readers fall in love with characters does too, and it makes me a worse writer. No one wants to fail. Telling me I can get it back is like telling the ugly child that she’s being picked on because the others are jealous. It’s just not true. When I rant, just give me some empathy, listen, and – if possible – remind me why I love writing so much even though it’s an art with a whole lot of heartbreak.