Writers are not spiritual beings, with no earthly existence.
We need to sleep, shower, brush our teeth, cook, eat, clean our houses, look after our spouses, children, pets.
All of these, to some extent compete with writing.
And yeah, I do know this makes the fans mad, when it’s been a long time since we put books out, but these things still need to be done, and there needs to be some sort of balance because we’re not mere spirits that write books. We are people with physical bodies, who have to take care of the wants and needs of the body.
But there are other things we do. Because we are not machines, with the sole purpose of writing. Also, let’s be absolutely honest, we’re not, precisely speaking “normal” human beings, in the sense that we’re not like most humans. Most humans don’t write stories; don’t come up with characters and their problems at the drop of a hat. Most humans certainly don’t feel compelled to do this. And, alas, most writers do.
And the more we feel compelled, the more we feel the need to do this, and can’t explain it, the more our subconscious tries to control it or run away from it.
Okay, this is my homemade, newly cooked diagnosis for how writers get so often pulled into whirlpools. And, yes, I’ll admit I’m often subject to whirlpools, though they’re usually more… incidental, sideways.
Sometimes though they become whirlpools like…. trying to do the perfect cover for something. Or trying to arrange my office just so. I felt a lot more relieved when I realized that Pratchett had the arrange the office whirlpool, too.
But people have more complex whirlpools.
I know writers who have stopped writing. They spend their entire time judging the markets, making sure that they have the right idea, which they then outsource, edit the book, and work the publicity game.
I spent time listening to this plan, but it seemed moot to me, because, you see, I actually enjoy the writing part of it.
It’s a valid business plan, btw. It simply isn’t one that works for any writer who wants to write. For them it becomes a whirlpool.
A whirlpool that tempts me is teaching, and I have to be very careful about it, because writing “pulls” from the same place as writing. And if I’m teaching I stop writing.
Of course teaching pays, so besides enjoying it, there’s that temptation. “I could be making more money right now.” But it is not writing. Many a writer has gone down into the teaching whirlpool, and never pulled free again.
But probably, for me, the biggest whirlpool is politics. Yes, my blog and instapundit are part of what takes my time, but I was obsessively following politics on other people’s blogs, because…. because that scar runs very deep, and I’m aware that even when I am not interested in politics, it can be interested in me.
You can usually tell how I feel by how often I’m reading politics. Weirdly right now it’s not a big whirlpool. I’ve been planting vegetables…. and that has been somewhat of a whirlpool, but it has a limit. I worked very hard to set the garden up. It’s not completely done, but what’s left I can do with weeding and such, an hour or two every other day. Nice exercise in the fresh air, and not terribly whirlpooly.
Unpacking and such is taking way more time, but that was built in, and my health is better here, and I’m thinking more clearly. I resent the time spent in unpacking, actually, but it’s needed.
However I have to stay vigilant against whirlpools.
Each of us has a different whirlpool, a different thing that calls to us.
There are things that seem to be very attractive to other people, but hold no call at all to me. But mine, strange though they are, can ensnare me.
In the river of your writing — or your life — stay aware of the whirlpools. You can be sucked down int o them, and your writing will never be heard from again.