If you’ve stopped writing are you still a writer? Maybe you’re an author. That sounds more past tense and passive. Someone made a comment to me that it must be a great time stuck at home to write. Seems like it should be; but why is it not for me? For most of my late-in-life writing career I have stayed at home, so no major change there. Although the circumstances are different, if you have decided to be less “out-and-about” versus the Governor deciding you should stay home.
One of my projects in-waiting is Vegas Dead End. My plan was to revisit Las Vegas, New Mexico, and refresh my memories of this unique town, but that has been delayed. Seems like my new “normal” is becoming slower and a little bit less engaged.
When I first started writing I was actively employed in a high pressure job. My biggest challenge at that time (besides coming up with an interesting plot) was time. My day was full with stressful meetings and deadlines. During that time, I was doing most of my writing very early in the morning. My routine became several hours of writing starting around 4 am. Even with that less than ideal schedule, I felt energized and couldn’t wait to spend time writing.
Now, some years later, I have ample time all day long, undisturbed to write. So what am I doing; nothing. Why?
My first book was during that busy work time with the early morning writing. It felt like I was on a mission to write a book. My whole focus on the writing was to complete that one book. I had approached this lark as more of an exercise than a burst of creative energy. The whole process gave me great insight into the difficulty of writing a full-length novel. I finished the book, and it was published. It felt like I had proven to myself I could write a book and could more or less put that behind me; as a completed task. I began to realize that the book was not all that good. Mostly because I rushed the final chapters; I was ready for it to be over.
As I slid into semi-retirement, I began to rethink writing. This time I took a different approach. I did extensive research and spent a great deal of time in planning and organizing the book before I began writing. That project, The Bootlegger’s Legacy, took off like a rocket. During the time between the first book and The Bootlegger’s Legacy I had taught myself a lot; I was now ready to be a “real” writer. While technically The Bootlegger’s Legacy was my second book, I consider it my first “real” book. The other book was no longer available, and I chose to ignore it.
Now I have written ten books in about five years. Each book has had its own unique struggles. There have been dry spells when it seemed nothing was working and some high energy periods where my writing was frantic. I still don’t understand the ups and downs, but they do not surprise me anymore.
This current dry spell may last another day or month or forever; I have no idea. In the past, after the inactivity has ended, have written with greater energy and focus. Hopefully this will end soon with an explosion of creative energy and a trip to Las Vegas to find the meaning of the new book Vegas Dead End.
That first book was The Originals. It may still pop up some places as a used book; if you see it please don’t buy it. It really was a training experience. And while maybe not my best work, I learned more from writing that book than I have from the next ten. The first lessons are often the most meaningful. The biggest lesson learned was that I had to write every day—even if it was only an hour at 4 am. That lesson is still true; but now I can’t. Of course, I haven’t been getting up at 4 am since I have a whole day with nothing much to do. Okay, I see a plan; 4 am tomorrow Vegas Dead End.