I am staring down the barrel of several guns—all shotguns, all loaded, all with buckshot. And I am fine with it. Now please understand that I have panic attacks. Last year this time I was in the same boat and panicking. This year, no panic. I find this odd behavior on my part. It differs from the character building, it differs from past actions, it does not fit the pattern. Not at all. So I am musing on the changes that I see in me. Not ranting, mind you. Just … pondering my way through it.
If I was a character in one of my books, I—the writer—would have to deal with this deviation from the norm. I’d have to find a way for the character changes to make sense or I’d have to do a lot of rewriting and reinsert the panic attacks. Fortunately, I am not a character and I am free to feel what I want and to react as I want. It goes back to the saying that (paraphrased) books have to make sense, real life doesn’t.
But let’s look at the barrels that I opened with:
1. I have a book due on May 1. I have 100 pages still to write. I have deviated from my linear outline and the book is taking different arcs. I am discovering things about the characters that I didn’t expect. And I like it. Yet, the deadline looms.
2. I am in the middle of editing an anthology. I asked for and received a week extension. I am enjoying the editorial process. It is actually fun. The stories are good, the writers are better, and are a delight to work with. Yet, the deadline looms.
3. I have a novella due on June 15, as part of the Jane Yellowrock Companion. Which has to be written. And put together. I’ll have 6 weeks. I hope. Yes, the deadline looms.
4. As I write this, I also have this post to write. And a blog day on Thursday to look forward to. And a blog to write for the release day at www.BittenByBooks.
5. I need to vacuum and scrub the tub. And fold some clothes. I’m out of undies, which is entirely TMI, I know, but I wanted to show you what life is like when deadlines overlap. Oh. I am also out of bread, lettuce, canned soup, salmon, and fresh veggies.
6. Oh. Yeah. I actually forgot. Which is weird. I added this number 6 in the final rewrite. I mentioned release day in number 4. I have a book release on April 2. BLOOD TRADE will be out. Please feel free to buy it. Buy a copy for you, and one for each of your reading pals. Ask your local library to buy a copy or 10. (Required PR is now done.)
7. I also forgot to add — the full time job for the benefits.
Yes, panic is still a possibility. But to be honest, this set of deadlines are not nearly as bad as last year’s set of deadlines. Writers have to deal with deadline panics All. The. Time. Oftentimes, it hurts. When I was younger, I thrived on the adrenaline. Not so much these days. These days I ache when I spend too long in the desk chair. I ache all over when I don’t stretch, when I don’t walk the dogs, when I don’t paddle/rest/take time off. When I don’t sleep.
So. You may be asking. What the heck is this post about? It is about the writing life. It is about the stress of feeling like we writers can’t say no to a project with a deadline, so we do too much. Even with turning down 4 cons, multiple signings, and reneging on several short stories I had said I would do, I am still doing too much. Something will not be its best. I know that. This usually causes a major panic attack with the secondary tendinitis and immune problems. Not this time, which is still odd.
To deal with the panic and the pain, some writers turn to drugs or alcohol. Or both. I have an addictive personality, so that is something that I work hard not to do. For me, a frank discussion with my doctor and a low dose of Xanax helps, but, (as my doctor made clear to me) it can only help when I say, “NO!” to the deadlines. When I give myself a chance to have a life. Which I did when I cut the shorts and the Cons down.
I am growing up, maybe? I am not sure about that, but I guess it’s a possibility, though it is long overdue if so. Maybe I am just getting older and listening to my body (which gets easier when the creaks, snaps, and groans get louder.)
Real life and fiction are not at all alike. No way, no how. Real life doesn’t have to make sense. So I am ruminating on the changes in me. Contemplating the future. Reflecting on the deadlines I am facing. I’ll get through this year. Next year I will do even less. I have promised this to myself and to my hubby.
What have you given up lately, to have a better quality of life? Or what have you started doing?
Edited in: Here is a great link to Barb Hendee‘s site. Excellent for us writers.