Sleeplessness plagued me last night, but it was the sleeplessness that writers crave, not because you wake up bleary eyed and seeking caffeine, not because you stared at the ceiling all night listening to the clock tick, feeling every shift of the dog at your feet, not even because you used that time to get up and write–which I never do–the night is not for writing on paper but in one’s mind. It’s the rare, almost never rediscovered enthusiasm that all writers start with. The “I can’t wait to get back to it” feeling, the drive that our significant others might recognize but never understand.
Newbie writers have it and never know it for the gift it is, the one that gets us all through that awkward stage of seeking publication. It’s worse than adolescence and just as heartbreaking, and if there was a word that meant gift and curse all at the same time, it would be appropriate to use it here. You can see it in them by the creamy tan stains on their shirt sleeves and that they know all the baristas by name–if the synopsis and first three chapters leaking out of the folder tucked under their arm didn’t give it away.
Seasoned writers have it, but it’s harder to see, a distant haze in their eyes that says that they’re working even though, or maybe because, they’re sitting in the stands watching their kid play T-ball or putting groceries into the cart. But the drive has shifted. Seasoned writers know that the story will wait for them, coaxed into existence by patterns and a writing toolbox that would rival Clint Eastwood’s garage in Grand Torino. New writers have only a borrowed tool belt, a roll of duct tape, and a can of W-D oil. And yet they get the same job done.
It’s a rare day that I’m not ready to sit at my desk in the morning, but I’ve not seen the sleepless night for a long time. I know where it’s coming from, and as a writer who wants to do this for a lifetime more, I rejoice. I have finally wrestled the rough plot of the last Hollows book into submission, finding in the doing more than a solid outline with the beginnings of a no-holds-bared, wild and wow ending I want to give you. I knew I would, but I’ve battled more than just the story line on this. I’ve fought a myriad of emotions that I keep telling myself are stupid, and yet they are real.
Will the next series be well received.
Are my numbers growing fast enough to keep interest high in NY.
Am I being foolish for intentionally letting this series slip away for a maybe and a chance to stretch my skills and continue to grow as a writer.
But it wasn’t the questions that kept me awake, it was the story. My sleepless night was spent waiting for the sun, waiting to get back to this monster of a plot that tested me–and will continue to test me–in all directions. The questions, I realized, don’t really matter.
I am a writer. I will write. Come with me. I’ll tell you a damn fine story.