Sunday, November 16, 2008

Slackers-Not-So-Anonymous

There's a great group of writing mothers that you might of heard about: The Writing Mothers. Lately, the list has been quiet. Which I'm convinced is because *I* have been quiet, except that would be giving myself a few more powers than I have (the sum is currently zero in the power department). But a very good discussion was sparked today and it seems like there are a few others out there who are also feeling frustratingly quiet.

I recently finished book #2, which will be released before book #1, so technically it will be my first book. Anyhoo...

This book was much harder to write than the first one (book one, which will be book two) because it had more technical info in it. There were certain topics that I knew, but I didn't know them to the depth which I needed to know them. Ya follow? For example, we all know that too much CO2 being released into the air is bad, right? But can you explain (with humor, wit and clarity please!) how much is too much? How many ppm is really bad and how many ppm is super-duper bad? Why is methane worse than CO2 and what's the difference between the concentrations and potency in our atmosphere?

So there was learning involved. And did I mention it was about 85,000 words?

The sheer size of it terrified me. But I did it. I finished.

And immediately I felt like I didn't want to write again for a year. I wanted to be just a mother, hanging out with my kids in the evening instead of rushing to the computer after I'd put them to bed. I wanted to catch up on all the shows I'd PVR'd without feeling guilty. And why did I feel guilty? Because every moment I wasn't writing, I knew I should be. Every moment I was writing, I felt like I should be with my kids. Every moment at my Day Job I felt like I should be either writing or with my kids, knowing that whichever I would choose I'd still go back to feeling guilty about not doing the other one.

What kind of craziness is this that I am afflicted with?!

Since I finished the book and finished the edits, I haven't written much. I've hardly blogged, I hardly email. I had one column due (yesterday) and I finished that (yesterday). But still I have been feeling like much less of a writer than I am used to. Because each time I sat down at the computer, I felt a certain amount of panic at what I had to accomplish. You don't know how many blog posts I started and then deleted because I'd get a paragraph in and think "this is stupid".

I think part of it was going through the edit process. My editor for this last book was wonderful. There were a lot of great comments on the manuscript that helped me to see where I needed to fix it and where I could improve. But as wonderful as the edits were, there's still that niggling voice that says "look at all the mistakes you made!" and my inner perfectionist comes out to perch upon my shoulder and make insinuating eyebrows at me.

So I started to not really want to write, I started to avoid it. Sure, I had things I wanted to write, but I didn't HAVE to - like blog posts. I started to let that procrastination habit creep back in. Then something happened. My friend Karen passed away and a package that I'd made up for her was still sitting, unsent at my office. I had procrastinated my way into a place I'd never been before, I actually missed a deadline (absolutely no pun intended on that one, though it would probably have made Karen smile) that I couldn't recover from.

Part of me just wanted to NOT do anything. If I didn't commit to anything, I would have no deadlines to miss. I embraced my inner slacker. Don't try so you don't miss anything.

But guess what? That's not me. I'm a driven person. I like to DO things. I like to take on scary projects that find me over my head. I think that it might even be the way God created me - willing to take a step or two on faith rather than leaning on my own understanding (or rationale). Willing to say "sure, I can do that" when I'm not sure if I can or not.

So here I am, Heather Cook, a reformed slacker. It was a dark moment, a quick foray into the unknown world of slackerdom. But I'm back.

2 comments:

aGibby said...

OMG, what an inspiring post. You are right, a book doesn't write itself. I'd better get back to work.

Kai said...

I think we all go through areas where we feel like that - most of us don't have the courage to acknowledge it though, so bravo!
Great post - I'm going to be sending people in it's direction.