Momentus Interruptus

I'm not the fastest writer in the world, but still, I can usually manage a couple of full-length novels a year by taking the slow and steady route at a fairly-sane pace. But the tortoise still reaches the finish line, so I'm not complaining. Week in and week out, I go for my same 20-25 pages. If I don't make it during the weekdays, I work weekends to catch up.

And I forgive myself for the "think time" needed to get a project underway, for times I have to stop and reread, revisions, and getting stuck when I don't know quite how to get from Point A to Point B. Since I tend toward convuluted plots, where multiple storylines must dovetail and one clue leads to the next, I understand that sticking points come with the territory. At times, I get frustrated and swear to myself that next time, I'm keeping the plot simple and straightforward, but apparently my writer's brain doesn't work that way.

This week, I've come "unstuck" after hitting a major roadblock earlier. I'm really into what I'm doing, and I can barely wait to dive back into it. Except that galleys (page proofs) for my July book have just shown up on the doorstep, a time-sensitive interruption that demands that I drop all else and get on it right away. I also need to pull together an ad, check in with my agent, and - oh, yes - get the car into the shop and take care of my family in a hundred time-consuming ways.

Like the rest of life, a professional writer's schedule can get messy. It's full of fits and starts and unscheduled interruptions. The trick is to allow the work-in-progress to keep percolating, to allow the little detours to invigorate instead of weaken our resolve. Too often, people tell me how they're going to write a book (or get serious about writing) when their kids are older, their various relatives make it through the latest crises, they're retired, recovered from health problems, or finished whatever volunteer duties they've assumed. And, oh yes, they've accumulated enough money so that they can write, stress-free, without the worry of financial obligations.

Well, guess what. That idyllic time of perfect freedom is on all of our horizons. We call it death, but somehow, I don't think that many books are written from the grave. So if you want to write, write now. Because, as John Wayne put it in my favorite of his movies, "Daylight's burnin'."

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