Diary Day 1: On with the show!
Overture, curtains, lights,
This is it, the night of nights!
No more rehearsing and nursing a part
We know every part by heart
Overture, curtains, lights
This is it, you'll hit the heights
And oh what heights we'll hit
On with the show this is it!
Well, the curtain is about to go up on Book No. 10. And though that makes me a veteran on this crime writing stage, I still have first night jitters.
Writing that first paragraph never gets easier, folks. You'd think it would be rote by now. But starting a new book, confronting that awful field of white on the NEW Wordperfect document -- it is painful for me. Not just psychicly painful. Physically painful. Like stomach-knotting, heart-palpatating painful. (I've been telling myself it's just the diverticulosis but it's not). I have been putting this off for weeks now, procrastinating with every conceivable excuse. First there was SleuthFest. Then there was a friend's visit. Then I had to prepare for the Edgar symposium. And there was that critique I had been putting off. And all that laundry to be folded...
Of course, the longer you wait, the worse it gets. Because writing is exactly like exercising. If you stop doing it, your energy flags, your muscles atrophy, your mind grows cobwebs. You get fat and lazy. Then get you depressed because you've gotten fat and lazy.
Why is this so difficult? It's a confidence thing. Every time Kelly and I start a new book, I am scared shitless that this is the one that will reek. I'm terrified that we have run out of gas; that our ambivilence is showing and we will become one of those pathetic writers who phone it in. I'm worried that we don't have the energy to do it again. I'm thinking that this is the plot that is pallid, that this story is shapeless. I am certain that this is when it will all fall apart and everyone will see me for the fraud I am.
Then I remind myself that once things get going -- oh, around chapter 20 or so -- it will come together. It will become fun again. I remind myself that I have been here before and come out the other end okay. I remind myself that every book feels like you are pushing a mamoth boulder up a hill until that beautiful moment when you crest and then you race downhill in an exhilarating rush. I remind myself that I am so damn lucky to have a contract in these tough times, to have the support of a fine editor and publisher, to get paid to think stuff up, to have readers who buy our books and write us emails of thanks. I remind myself about all of this and try to stop whining and do my job.
The good thing is, there is redemption even for scofflaws. There is always another day, a new chance. Another Monday....
Today is Monday. Today, I typed out CHAPTER ONE. (hey, it's a start, man!) But then I made a short detour here. Because I am going to try something new with this book. I am going to begin each day's writing with a short diary entry here about my progress. Yes, yes....I KNOW that is procrastination of sorts. Blogging, as we all know, is a huge time suck. As one of my favorite editor types Neil Nyren put it recently over at Murderati: "Blogs – I probably shouldn’t be saying this -- but sometimes I wonder if all the time and energy spent on writing a blog might not be better spent on…well, you know what I’m going to say."
But for me, in the past, this blog has also been like a quick set of jumping jacks. See, I figure just the fact that I have to come here and move my fingers over the keyboard might get my lard ass in gear again for the heavy lifting of fiction.
So, this is my first entry in a diary that will chronicle my trip on this curious winding road called writing. Destination: Untitled Book No. 10. Length of journey: as long as it takes. ETA: It's in the contract. What we'll see along the way: God only knows.
Every journey starts with one keystroke.