He stormed into my study. “Dude! What the hell?!”
“What?” I asked without looking up.
“You have three first drafts cooking and a series to finish…why are you on twitter?”
I shook my head. “If you need to eat all I do is write in a restaurant. If I want to eat, I have to let people know I exist.”
“Well I’m hungry…write.”
Yep, I thought. And while I’m at it, why don’t I just write your checking account full. “I’ll get right on that,” I replied, still without looking up. My fingers weren’t cooperating and worse, neither was my brain. I had the advantage of having a long running series, so the characters were all ready and willing to talk on their own, but confidence in the material comes in spurts (despite the brave face most authors project) and sales can sometimes feel like rolling a big rock up hill…stop for a minute and it will roll back down.
“It doesn’t look like you’re writing,” he said.
“Ease up,” Gretle said, stepping in behind him. “Seven books in two years is grueling…he deserves some down time.”
I smiled and looked up finally. “Thank you sweetheart.”
“Hey,” he snapped. “No one calls her sweetheart but me.”
At that moment, I was half tempted to write his death, prematurely ending the series. But he was right; I had spent so much of my time writing my favorite characters, I’d forgotten that they weren’t mine anymore–they had lives of their own.
As he stormed out, Gretle walked over behind me and put her hands on my shoulders before leaning over to whisper in my ear. “You are amazing…don’t let his nagging undermine you.”
I nodded and returned to my writing. She kissed my cheek before leaving the room and I suddenly felt lonely. I took a deep breath and clicked on my ranking page. “Shit…down two.”
I shouldn’t have let it bother me. I was still up more than twenty thousand from where I was a year ago on the same day, but as with my characters, it’s always about the now—(gee, I wonder where they get that from?) and I was now going on 4 years without a paycheck other than book royalties and the odd investment (which I suck at).
My muse was in the other room. I could hear her clicking her nails on a table somewhere and sighing forlornly as if she too had no one in the world. And now I felt guilty–even my muse is waiting on me to stop tweeting.
Ego boosts are great writer fuel, as are coffee, good reviews, higher sales, or anything positive about the writing experience. Even my celebrity friends have been gushing over me of late (which is not only an ego boost, but tends to raise the pedestal I sleep on a few feet as well). But sometimes, even praise from movie and TV stars isn’t enough to pull you out of the mechanics of having to promote, post, tweet, tube, scope and blog the funk away.
For some writers, the funk is actual motivation. Kudos to those who can take the negative sinking feeling and turn it into masterworks…I’m not one of them.
My muse dotes on me when I run myself down; “Are you okay? Can I refill your coffee?”
The attention feels better, but it also reinforces the isolation. That’s on the outside. On the inside my characters are screaming at me to write. They all want face time and the longer I go without words on a page, the more confusing and chaotic the chorus becomes.
“Can I get you another cup of coffee?” she asked, poking her head through the door of my study.
I looked at my mug and shook my head. “I still have half a cup.”
“Okay,” she said, oozing sympathy. “If you need anything, just yell.”
“I will. Thanks.”
Authoring…how close is it to an illness? The fact that my characters, my muse, my significant other, poke their heads in on a fairly regular schedule almost makes me feel as if I’m on a suicide watch. “What the hell?”
But then I see my notebook, or the post-it on my screen with the next outline and my hunger returns. As if I were shoving plates off a table to clear it, my head realigned and my word processor popped up, waiting for the finger falls…the clack, clack, clack of creation. Yes. This is what I’m supposed to be doing.
It takes only seconds for my muse to start humming a tune in the next room. By mid paragraph, she has burst into full song and my fingers are flying across the keys barley keeping pace with the flow of words coming from my leaky brain.
He was downstairs, pacing–it distracted me for a second, but I typed on. Uh oh. Then I erased and typed again…and then once more.
“Shit! I had it!”
“Shut up and write!” He yelled.
I shook my head and minimized Scrivener before posting another tweet. “This is your fault, Scott Wolfe,”. “I know…I know.”
“Funny,” he muttered from the stairwell.
“I’m sorry it’s taking so long, but I’m killing you off in this one and it’s harder than I thought it would be,” I lied.
“Really?” he asked. “After all we’ve been through?”
I shrugged. “Sorry man…that’s just where the story is going.”
Gretle popped her head in and shot me a worried glare. I smiled and shook my head letting her know I was just trying to shut him up.
Is it any damned wonder authors are horrible at the job part of writing with that much going on? The businessman in me wants to say “Buy my books…they’re really good.” but the author in me just wants the noise to go away so I can do what I do best; create universes of entertainment. Somewhere in the middle is a bestseller or two or twelve. I just have to find a way to get people to discover me…have you read my books? They’re really good. 🙂
My muse wrapped her arms around me from behind and whispered into my ear, “There flows the worlds you’ve created…”
And I was writing again. This is such an awesome friggin job.
If you liked this post, then please like this post 🙂 S.L. Shelton is the author of an Amazon Bestselling Political Thriller Action Espionage Series, (The Scott Wolfe Series). Follow him here on WordPress, on Twitter @SLSheltonAuthor or Facebook. He will love you for it.