The Writer’s Life Still Surprises Me

I just looked it up – I started writing my first novel in 1997. Twenty-five years and 14 novels later, you’d think I’d have myself figured out by now. But every book, I discover new things about myself and this writing thing. Here’s a few examples:

1. I have to write. When did that happen? I don’t know, but after I turned in book 14, I had no new ideas. There was no deadline, because I’d completed my contract. Okay, so what’s next? I had no clue. I looked around, considered what is interesting, combed Google. Nothing. I could hear a ticking in my head like that grandfather clock in Stranger Things, with the same reaction. Terror.

I used to picture authors sitting on front porches in a rocker, dreaming up plots with a smile on their faces. Maybe some do, but that ain’t me. I got antsy. Nothing held my attention. I was grumpy. The cats started scattering when I came in the room.

And it hit me – I HAVE to write. That may not seem like a big deal, but it hit me hard. This isn’t a choice. Somewhere along the way, writing changed from what I do to what I have to do. I’m not sure I like that, but it is what it is.

Good news is— I have a new idea I’m excited about and am diving in.

2. Every book is harder. I don’t plan it that way (in truth, I don’t plan much at all), but my brain chooses new things to explore every time, and they’re a stretch for me. An example: The Road to Me had an unreliable narrator, Nellie. She told wild stories and outright fabrications along with the truth. I’ve never done that before. Sounds simple, but it isn’t. It also involved a pretty intricate timeline, both in the past and the present. And I suck and timelines. Yeah, can hardly wait to see what my brain cooks up on the next book.

3. You don’t do this alone. I thought writers were introverts, who closed themselves away until emerging triumphantly, waving a completed manuscript. That’s how they’re mostly pictured in books and movies, right? Well, I’m an extrovert to the second power, but even the introverts I know need the writing community around them for support, education and commiseration. I have several ‘lifeline’ friends who I call when I’m mired in The Pit of Despair’ (aka the middle) who remind me that I always do this, and I always make it to the other side.

There are more things I could get into, but I really have to go write.

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