Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Step away from the pickles

I have been overthinking a book I am writing. No, not just mulling it over...not just planning and carefully considering what I am writing...I have been agonizing and overthinking it to the point where I am not writing it at all.

How can you call yourself a writer when you aren't writing at all? Well, I suppose you can't. So I have been a miserable crabby pants, stalking around the house whining and complaining about things not related to writing because I am a miserable crabby pants over my lack of words on the page. Make sense? No. Not at all. It doesn't make a lick of sense and my husband doesn't know what to do with me.

My best author friend in Australia has been putting up with me for a while now, gently prodding me along with little pearls of wisdom. We often talk late at night (my time) because it is nap time for her crew. Last night I told Miriam I was in the fetal position, eating Polish pickles straight out of the jar and realizing I will never finish this book. Maybe I couldn't write books. Maybe I would never finish a single manuscript in my entire career. Whine, whine, whine. Complain, complain, complain.

The absolute worst part of all of this? I am in the perfect environment to write every single day. My boys are both in full time school now, my wonderful husband supports what I do and we have created this fairly quiet small town existence that is the holy trinity of writing. Quiet, financially supported solitude. I can name a dozen people who would give a lot for even an hour of uninterrupted writing time in a single week. I could pull off probably 5 hours every day and here I am whining like my diamond shoes are too tight. Last night, I disgusted even myself. It was bad. So as I am motoring my way through that jar of Polish pickles, Miriam says:

"Mate, you're not going to finish by eating pickles and wondering if you'll ever finish. You will finish by working on your book."

I paused with half a pickle in my mouth and the other half in mid air on the way to my mouth.

She asked me if I had ever heard of Raymond E Fiest's Magician? No, I hadn't. Tell me more. (I put the pickle down.)

Miriam tells it like it is without actually telling me I am being a ridiculous whiner. She really is quite brilliant at it and I should start paying her to drag me up from the wallowing gallows of writer self pity. She told me how famous Ray Fiest was and about his many (many) published works, huge following, etc, etc and how a couple of years ago he re-published his very first novel (released in 1982) in an "author's preferred edition." When she said that, it twigged my memory that Michael Slade also did this with his first novel Headhunter. So what she said next made me sit up and put the pickles away:

"I guess where I am going with this is right now we are nobody and nothings. And we need to make a name for ourselves. But one day if this still bothers you, you can publish a version you like better. In the mean time, just bloody get published eh?"
Um...yeah. (I raised my eyebrows) Right. Absolutely correct. There is nothing that says this is ever the final version of anything but to get it out there  right now, it has to be the version that will be the most interesting to the broadest range of people you can manage for the genre.
Suffice it to say, with that little nugget of truth hanging in the virtual world between us, I put my big girl panties back on, put an immediate halt to the pity party, put the damn pickles away (ok, who am I kidding here, the jar was empty) and went to bed thanking God that I have a friend like Miriam. She doesn't sugar coat it but kindly doesn't tell me outright I am being an ass. When I most certainly am.
The things that are bothering me about this book aren't really things at all. I am warring with the fact that I am a journalist writing a true story...with the fact that I want to be an author of wildly popular books. The two are different. They can certainly be melded together, but the world of fiction based on fact has a broader appeal than an article-type book with no dialogue. So suck it up, buttercup. You know what you have to do. Eating pickles won't finish that book.