Friday, June 25, 2010

Summertime Blues

Once upon a time, oh, about thirty years ago, there was a band called The Flying Lizards. They were fairly obscure. I came upon them through either my more music savvy sister or my adventurous alternative friends. I only knew two of their songs. One was "I Want Money" and the other was "Summertime Blues." They had a funky, choppy sound and just listening to them you felt edgier.

"Summertime Blues" just about describes me the last couple of weeks.

It's not just that my writing time is suddenly shrunken to snatched moments or scheduled time when teenagers are willing to play with our youngest son (something I can't really farm out for a full six hours a day, much as I'd sort of like to). Or that as a long-time Portlander I react to sunshine much as the Wicked Witch did to water: "I'm melting..." Or that "working on my shit" can be a major pain in the butt.

I've got a massive case of post-productive let-down.

I hear this is a normal writerly condition. And that the only cure is to immediately get back on the horse the day after finishing a book, so you don't get caught in a slough of despair (never thought I'd be quoting Pilgrims Progress), as well as getting that puppy out and into the hands of prospective agents.

I got a few queries out there, and even this book's first official rejection letter (not a form letter so I guess I should celebrate). I was ready for that by the last total word count and the correction of the three spelling mistakes that only the thirteenth reader caught. Including one in the first sentence (and I know how to spell "lupus"--how could I screw it up?).

What keeps me dithering and crawling under my desk with fear is which horse to get on, and the fear that once on, I won't be able to finish the race. Do I begin on the sequel? Or get on with the other first draft novel sitting on my desk awaiting attention, just in case no one finds my first book amusing? And now that I think I've finished the first book, all these kept-at-bay doubts are flying around me like Ring Wraiths, sucking out my confidence and infusing me with the certainty that I was crazy to consider myself a writer and should have taken that Starbucks job back in 1989.

I'm an emotional mess.

Today is the day I'm supposed to be picking a pony. There is a lovely twenty-year-old neighbor girl playing with our son for a couple more hours. My teenagers are still asleep. I have scene cards for both sequels to my recently finished book laid out on the floor (along with outlines of the A, B, and C plots) and the scene cards for the other book (one of those fish-out-of-water, girl with a problem YAs) are handy to spread out near the door. At which point my entire office carpet with be covered in white note cards and I will allegedly make a CHOICE that I'll be willing to stick with for around six months.

There are other options. I could finish trimming the rose bush. Leap into a new slice-of-life piece about high school. Pen a few blogs ahead so I'm not trying to catch up with people a month later. It is so satisfying to procrastinate, yet prolongs the pain and doubt and the urge to crawl under my desk with a love story I've already read three times. Hard to say how it will all work out.

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