I’ve been hard it for nearly two months, running toward multiple deadlines. I have 100 pages to go on the last contract, and I have to be done by September 1st. My whole focus has been on making page count. I’m late paying bills, haven’t returned phone calls to family and friends, and have hit the delete key to zap messages without opening them to see if they’re important. Oddly, I don’t feel particularly stressed and that worries me.
Has writing become a job? I know it really is my only job, but I never wanted to feel like it was. Since I began writing in 2000, I’ve followed my muse down whichever path she chose to lead me, sometimes writing stories I knew wouldn’t be as successful as others simply because they gave me pleasure.
With this last book, I felt that pleasure through the first third of the book. Not so much during the second. As I head toward the finish I have to figure out what’s missing.
So far the book has humor—tons of it actually. How could it not when it starts with a charity bachelor auction and is loosely based on my own experience at one a few months ago? It has sexy heroes—three to-die-for males, two of them deputy sheriffs who like to play BDSM games—so what’s not to love about them? The setting is a small, fictional town in my beloved Texas. That can’t be the problem.
Niggling at the back of my mind is the thought that maybe it’s the fact I’m working on books I’ve already conceived and I’m ready to start the creative part, the dreaming part of writing again. For me, it’s the most fun. The function of writing that feels least like “work” because I have complete freedom to daydream without producing a thing. I don’t know how the creative process works for other writers or where they get their ideas, but for me, ideas kind of float into my head, usually late at night when I’ve shut down the computer, watched a bit of one of my favorite TIVO’d shows (Eureka, Monk, House, L&O: Criminal Intent, Burn Notice), and I’m starting to fall asleep.
I start dreaming by picking up wherever I’ve left the story of my latest serial daydream. Maybe I’m a singer hiding in cowboy country from a stalker fan—that’s one of my favorites. I cower in a closet when the stalker breaks into my house, speed dial the cowboy-sheriff hero and whisper for help while the stalker draws ever closer. At some point I get bored with the favorite rescue fantasy and my mind drifts off—that’s when it hits me. The idea that grabs me by the throat and sends me scurrying to my desk to write down the details before they’re lost.
That hasn’t happened lately because I’m not dreaming about the tried and true stalker fantasy. I’m thinking about the next day’s scene and dialogue and my brains still mired in WORK. Okay, so I’m moaning about something that doesn’t seem like a problem, right? I do have to finish this book, but I so want to be excited about the next project so that it motivates me to sizzle right through the end of the current project.
Maybe you have some ideas how I can recover my excitement so late in the game. Or maybe you can tell me your favorite ways to let WORK go and just dream.
BTW—I received a box of books in the mail yesterday—my latest release, A HOT MAN IS THE BEST REVENGE, which includes stories from Shiloh Walker, Beverly Havlir and myself. If you post a response, you’ll be in the running to receive a free, signed copy. So put your thinking caps on!