My wife, my sister, my father-in-law, and several close friends, keep asking me how the writing is going on Resuscitation, the sequel to They Never Die Quietly. My answer: “Um. Geez. Hmm.” The fact is, other than a loosely written outline, I haven’t written a damn word. There’s a lot at stake here. Even if They Never Die Quietly doesn’t meet its sales expectations, I still made a contractual commitment to write a sequel for a foreign publisher, and if I don’t deliver, I get squat. And I’m not talking about chump-change. The advance is . . . well . . . let’s just say that it’s not enough to buy that villa in Tuscany, but it could be a modest down payment.
So, why haven’t I started writing you ask? When I get home from work my brain is pretty much sucked dry, so any possibility of writing significant prose is remote. If I try to write on the weekends, I think I’d be preoccupied and feel like I was ignoring my wife. I admit it; they’re lame excuses. But nevertheless, my perception is my reality. Besides, like most authors, I have a specific writing technique that works for me and this method requires that I write every-single-day for several hours.
I cannot effectively write a few paragraphs on Monday, a few on Thursday, and two pages on Saturday. If I tried this process, the writing would be absolute crap. When I write, I have to be completely engaged in the story and intimately associated with the characters. Anything less and my writing will be impotent. And no wise cracks, please.
When I’m writing fiction, I actually depart from real-time life. I literally live in the novel and bond with the characters. It’s almost as if I’m suspended in another dimension. I know it sounds strange, but believe me, that’s the way I write. Furthermore, unlike most authors, when I begin a novel I start with a very basic idea and a shell of a story. But once I start writing, my brain explodes with interesting ideas and plot twists and quirky characters. I’m so flooded with creative ideas that I have to constantly make notes for fear they will vanish before I’ve had a chance to record them.
Here’s the challenge: for me to write words worth reading, I have to write every day, non-stop, until I’ve earned the right to write, THE END. But I can’t write every day while managing a very stressful and demanding full-time job. So the obvious solution is for me to retire. However, all things considered, when I crunch the numbers they just don’t pencil out. I don’t have enough money to comfortably retire and I certainly don’t want to eat beans and potatoes every day. (Although I actually like beans and potatoes!)
So, here is my crucible: the variable in this whole scenario is the success or failure of my novel and subsequent novels. If I truly believe in myself and my writing, I should tempt fate, throw caution to the wind, submit my retirement notice, and write like there’s no tomorrow. You can’t even imagine how desperately I want to do exactly that. I guess it all comes down to one defining verdict: am I secure enough to make a risky decision, or am I held hostage by fear and a lack of confidence in my writing ability and its commercial potential?