Having a successful couple of weeks recently in making great progress on “What Next?”, I had a moment for some introspection to contrast the style and method for both books.
In some manner, I hoped to determine why this book has taken me so long. I believe my ruminations have borne fruit, or at least an answer.
When I stepped away from Corporate America several years ago, it was after over 25 consecutive years of working. I was more than happy for a break and especially eager to get back to creative pursuits.
It was an exhilarating time. I was flush with my idea for this series and rejoicing in the freedom that only someone who no longer has their 9-to-5’er (after a lifetime) knows. Plus, I was still receiving a full severance and I was secure in the knowledge that I was young enough to reenter the workforce later, after I had gotten a good bit of writing done. After all, I was still not yet 50!
The stories were rolling in my head then and they easily tumbled onto the laptop keys. I was as relaxed as possibly never before in my life. So at ease, I let myself fall in love (and I use that description consciously). It was a fun time, filled with all sorts of new discoveries.
“What If?” came out a little over a year after I left my company. As I recognized the need to follow-up with Book 2, a number of things had changed. My relationship had ended (sort of…don’t ask), my severance had ended and my sense of ease, while perhaps not ended, had begun to chip away.
Still, I had great enthusiasm for the book, which I had already named “What Next?”, to be concluded with “What Now?”. In my head, I planned and plotted. I worked dialog and created new characters. I built back stories and mapped out explanations. What I wasn’t doing was writing.
It took a forced discipline, a work schedule, if you will, to get me to do the actual writing. The ideas came freely enough, but it now seemed like a burden to actually write them down. It’s so much more fun to just do the imagining.
And that’s when I realized that writing is work, too. Like anything else, it needs to be applied with consistency and discipline. Even the things you love (which seems to fit, since that’s the secret to great relationships, too) need to have a commitment and a plan of action.
It wasn’t all slogging through quicksand. There have been many times along the way just like the past couple of weeks, where the excitement was back and the words flowed until my hands cramped. More often, though, it seemed harder to reach that place of ease that detached me from other distractions and allowed me to live in the world of my imagination.
I’m eager to see if this pace keeps up. Often, the sight of the finish line can generate that last kick. I think (barring hurricanes) I’m feeling that now. I hope that fun feeling stays for a few weeks longer, because for most of the time I’ve been writing “What Next?”, it’s sure felt like work!