I Do This Every Year

Why do I do this every year? I know it’s coming. I anticipate it. I dread it. And yet, I still do it.

I’m referring to my complete disregard for my lack of writing productivity from mid-June to mid-September. I’m not a summer person in the slightest. The noise, the traffic, the heat — all those hallmarks of summer are brain-killers for me. I should know by now not to mess with this, to just sit back and chill out, but I’ve only ever half-learned my lesson. When I was writing for a publisher who gave me deadlines that crossed into summer, I’d bust my ass to get them out of the way by mid-June. “Fantastic! You’re so prompt!” the editor would say, and I’d keep it to myself that I had barely slept in an effort to make my deadline.

I’m not under contract for anything right now. My book is in a potential publisher’s TBR pile, and even if she came back tomorrow to tell me she was publishing my book and I needed to start working on it right away it wouldn’t be so bad, because editing isn’t writing. Editing requires me to be critical instead of creative.

I had hoped this year would be different. I have a nifty new writing space begging to be used. I made a to-do list of manageable bites. “Bring it on!” I said to myself, and then proceeded to hurl myself into that dark pit of failure. I crawl out, I play some video games, and then I go for another leap.

This is different from my failed attempt at writing a historical novel in 30 days. At least I wrote something that week. This is just a soul-sucker.

There are countless articles, books, and admonishing tweets about needing to make the time to write, how you can do it on top of a flaming pile of garbage if you were really serious. I’ll give an inch, a lot of writer’s block is just procrastination, but at the same time I challenge those people to listen to my DIY-loving neighbour drive his riding lawnmower up and down his lengthy driveway for three and a half hours while his four-year old screams in the background.

July 20th and I’m throwing in the towel. I’m going to read books and play video games for the next six weeks. I’ll end up doing it anyway, but at least this way I won’t have the crushing defeat of summer on my shoulders.

Advertisements

Old is new … ish

I have a bad habit. It used to be a great habit, but these days it’s as useful as smoking or a second cup of coffee or five-hours playing computer games.

That bad habit is writing.

Quite some time ago, I came to the realization that I was no longer enjoying the whole writing thing. No coincidence, it came as I was on the elevator at my old apartment with my first royalty statement from HarperCollins in hand. I wasn’t so much demoralized as I was pissed at myself for not seeing this coming, and I promptly locked myself in my apartment and sat down to write something new.

After ten years of writing erotica, a short story a week and promptly dropped into the inboxes of my favourite editors, it’s now like getting blood from a stone. I still successfully dabble in smut under another name, albeit in a different sub-genre, but the whole contemporary boy-meets-girl thing eludes me now. I know this, yet I still give it a go. All I really need to do is pick up my phone and check out what Alison Tyler has published on Patreon and I’m sucked in, determined to finish this story or that story, finally sink my teeth into something wicked, but it never works out. I’ve deleted more than I’ve written when those moods strike me.

One of these days I’m going to learn to just go do something else and stop torturing myself.

But I still hope that one day I can actually get some of those stories finished. Mind over matter, ass in the chair and all that. In the meantime, I have a trove of stuff from the past decade that I can put out there to be read. I’ve been loading this stuff on on Tablo, and I’m rediscovering stories I had completely forgotten I’d written. Nothing Important Happened Today, for example. I’d completely forgotten that story and I’d forgotten how much I loved writing that story. Then there’s Six Sides of Steel, which was the most surprising thing I’d written to date, and I still have a friend who asks if I’m ever going to turn that into a novella.

For now, you can find my A.M. Hartnett stuff on Tablo. Maybe one day there’ll be something new.