I’m taking a break tonight.
I’ve decided after three months of working on books, reading everything I can about self-publishing, establishing myself as an online presence via social media, joining groups, talking to editors and book artists, that tonight I’m going to do none of that. I’m going to watch television and drown my sorrows in tea and arancini balls. Bolognaise to be exact and chill out with Forever because when Ioan Gruffudd is not playing Mr. Fantastic, he’s pretty awesome.
Except that I can’t.
Even now, I feel the twitch to write something. The fact that you’re reading this blog right now proves how hard it is to let go. My mind is like a whirling dervish, spitting out all these ideas of what I could be doing with the hours after getting home from work and before going to bed. Notes for the next book! Look for bloggers to advertise Queen of Carleon! Write a witty tweet to impress Mel Brooks because he’s obviously hanging out for my next tweet! Go join writers groups on Facebook! Read a book to review for the Author’s Cave! There’s so many things to do, to be done, that when sleep comes, it doesn’t.
Instead, I end up lying in bed, taxing the patience of my cat who just wants me to settle the hell down so she can sleep on my feet without interruption.
I have also started checking my smart phone regularly, feverish with the need to see what has happened online in the two minutes since I left the phone to go get a glass of milk. I don’t watch television any more. My friend Dominique’s patience at my inability to sit through at least one episode of the Knicks is going to end in homicide or my being strapped to a chair like Malcolm McDowell in Clockwork Orange.
All this started because three months ago, I had an epiphany.
Not quite as radical as Angel waking up next to Darla and going ARGH but close. Angel fans, you’ll understand.
I’ve been writing all my life. My first story, God help me, was a Star War story so bad the exercise book on which it was written had to be burned to save future generations. Unfortunately, the same could not be said of the Star War Christmas special but I digress. From the age of eleven, I always wrote.
Sometimes I wrote my own stories and other times, I indulged in what I had no idea was called fan fiction at the time. When the television mini-series V came out, I wrote a bunch of stories set in my native Singapore and...shuddering as I write this... featuring a teenage protagonist who could do everything, including romancing the secret agent that bore a striking resemblance to Michael Biehn.
Apparently I had no idea what a Mary Sue was either.
I took my writing seriously in private. I know I have a fairly decent online reputation as a fan fiction writer but that was a way to keep the mind working because I was convinced I didn’t have the time to write something original. Fan fiction kept my creative juices flowing to a degree. It is really the literary version of a caffeine fix. Enough to keep you going but no replacement for a goodnight’s sleep.
The Children of the White Star was written when I was fifteen. It was my first original story and its been reworked several times since that day. The current version sitting on Amazon is the result of twenty years of development and it's still not done. I plan on sending it to and editor as soon as finances permit. Nevertheless ten years ago, I sent it off to a publisher and did nothing about it when I received a rejection letter with a request for resubmission after I had fixed some issues. Later on, I learned how rare this was though at the time, I was too foolish to take the advice.
I had put this block in my head that unless I went to some coastal town like Monterey, California (like Steinbeck) and took six months off, writing a book could not be done.
Three months ago after a particularly hard day at work, I was sitting at home wondering to myself—do I want to do this job forever? The answer was no.
Once I removed that mental road block and was honest with myself that I wanted to write, that all I’ve ever wanted to do was write, the rest was easy. I realised that the financial, circumstantial, even timing excuses I gave myself was exactly that—excuses.
Once I decided I was going to be a writer, that was it. The floodgates opened and now, instead of watching Ioan Gruffudd being awesome, I’m blogging while my aracini balls grow cold along with my pot of tea because I just need to goddamn write something.
Be it notes for the next book, contacting literary agents, checking out Goodreads or trolling the web for reviewers, its like my brain can’t switch off. When I’m at work, I can’t wait for the day to be over so I can get stuck into it again. It’s insane and I don’t think I’ve felt more accomplished. This madness has become passion and its giving me purpose. Even when I attempt to write a query letter, considering perhaps that this whole self-publishing bizzo is a mug’s game (that’s Aussie speak for too damn hard), I’m enjoying it.
So what’s the purpose of this diatribe tonight?
Nothing really, just an apology to Ioan for neglecting him because I’m still in the middle of my epiphany and I’m loving every moment of it.