Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted much since the middle of December. And if we are email correspondents, you may have not received replies to friendly notes and greetings you sent me over the holidays.
My deadline for my book was December 31, 2010. I was extremely confident and determined to be on time. I worked consistently on the book every day, and I should have been on time.
Well, I wasn’t. I turned the manuscript over to my agent yesterday, 13 days late. That is NOT a nice thing to do to publishers and editors. I am abashed.
But, prior to all that, in mid-December I realized that the only possible way to make my deadline was to eliminate distractions and write. Family Christmas, of course, does not fall on the distraction list, but random web activities do. So, for the most part, I disconnected from the Internet and wrote. And wrote and wrote.
Alleluia! What a wonderful experience! Suddenly my output increased. Scenes had more coherency, dialogue flowed as if people were actually talking to one another. I really felt like I was in that world, with those characters.
That is what happens when I can write in 4 to 6 hour blocks of time, with no little ‘pings’ coming up on my screen. I’d removed myself to a place where my laptop could not reach the outside world at all, and even though I was writing on a cramped laptop keyboard, the words just kept coming. It took me back to the Megan Lindholm days when writing was something I did in the dark hours of the night, all alone in a very chilly little office with only the stereo softly playing in the background. I was mostly broke in a rundown old house in a very rural area. So I started hanging out with a couple of imaginary fellows. When I remember those days, it actually feels as if Fitz were standing over my shoulder commenting on every keystroke, and the Fool was perched up on top of the ancient Maytag washing machine mocking our efforts. (Oh. Not every writer has her office in the laundry room? Well, I did.) When I recall those days, I feel like I am looking at an old fashioned Christmas card. I would get up from my desk and pad quietly into the kitchen to brew a cup of tea in the dark. Then I would go back to where the desk lamp and the computer screen were the only illumination. There is a sentimental glow that surrounds that old beat-up army surplus desk, the Kaypro computer and the black cat sleeping beside it.
This last couple of weeks, I got that back and I have fallen in love with writing all over again.
I enjoy chatting with readers. I love the convenience of email. But the temptation to dart out onto the Internet when the next sentence just won’t come is often overpowering for me. Writing anything, a blog, an email, a letter to the editor is always so much easier than finding the next sentence in the story. Every sentence, every word a writer types is a decision, you know. And for me it has always been easier by far to dither and procrastinate than to make those decisions, one after another after another.
Well, by now you have guessed it. This is my ‘Dear John’ letter to the electronic world. And as so many have said before me, I’ll add, “Please don’t feel bad. It’s not you. It’s me.” And it truly is. I know there are hundreds, probably thousands of writers out there who can blog wittily, update six social networking sites a day, twitter and tweet cheerily throughout the day, write about doing the laundry in a way that raises everyone’s social consciousness and still produce three books a year.
But I am not one of them.
I asked myself, if I had a choice between a twitter every day from my favorite author, or an extra book every year, which would I choose?
I choose the book. And I hope that most of you reading this will agree with me that you’d prefer I put my writing time into the books. Let’s face it, my blogs are just not that exciting.
I will not drop off the grid completely. I will do updates here, when there is real news to share. I’ll still check my newsgroup at sff.net daily. It’s rather like reading the funny papers every morning. (Yes, Tedrick, I’m looking at you!) I will do periodic updates at livejournal, facebook, my space, etc. etc. But you will see much less of me on your computer screen, and more, I hope, at your bookstore. And if you send me an email, I will still answer it. Eventually.
This weekend, I hope to finish the short stories about the goblins that live under a city that is not London. Just looks a lot like London in my mind. And the story about Old Paint, the most faithful of station wagons.
I hope I can stick to this New Year’s Resolution. And best of luck to all of you as you plow into the New Year with fresh resolutions, too.