I have a challenge for you. Go tell a story. For six hours straight. Feel free to pause as needed to collect your thoughts on how you want to phrase your tale. But commit to those six hours of storytelling. Now, do this for five days a week, for two months.
This is exactly what I did last summer (and what countless full-time authors do every day). When I returned from my vacation in July, I set to work, and by Labor Day had finished the first draft. That story is what I am currently working on, currently retelling for hours on end, tweaking, altering, deleting and staring some Portions over. I am trying desperately to finish up, and you might wonder what the rush is. There isn’t one, except for the fact that because of this story, I’m not here.
I began revising in June, but school was still in, and I had consulting work, and so it was very part-time. I knew the summer was around the corner.
My school year finished and I began revising more heavily. My wife was away for five days, and so the work was still light, two to three hours, tops. But once she returned and my daughters went to camp for the morning, the revision cranked up.
And now, with most likely the rest of this week and the next to go, full bore, I’m lost. Not in the story. No, that’s the only place I can actually see. I’m useless everywhere else.
My parents were over last night, asking questions about trips we have planned and other topics I should have ready answers to. Nothing. It’s as if they were speaking about someone else’s life.
I have a project list for the summer that’s virtually untouched, because I have little energy for anything else. *Disclaimer* I also hope my wife reads this post and takes pity, hence that last admission. She probably won’t.
This isn’t complaint, but commentary. I am amazed at the energy-draining quality of this project. And it’s not that the story is a mess and I have extensive work to do. It’s as good and as bad as my previous drafts. What I believe it boils down to is focus. I am at the point of no return, where nothing else matters besides the story. Not food, not sleep, not health. Just sitting and writing.
Delilah Dawson, author extraordinaire, recently wrote a post, “On Writing: WE’RE CLOSED.” It resonated with me on so many levels, even the showering. Go on, read it. She nails it.
Therefore, if you see me, or another author you know working like this, stuffed into an office, losing it slowly, be gentle. Speak clearly and directly, but don’t be offended if the glaze of storytelling doesn’t leave the eyes. We’re elsewhere.
And when we do return, there’ll be another story to consider.