Sunday, March 06, 2005

Writing? Not. Slacking off? Yes.

I hate my book right now. It needs something and I don't know what. Let me stop and clarify: the novel I was working on last year (the political satire, hereafter known as P.S.) is on hold because it requires a lot more time and effort than I can give it. Because it is a political satire, I created a completely different world and political system to set it in. And just as I'd get down to the story and start writing a scene between characters, there'd always be these logistics to be worked out or research to be done to be sure things were making sense. In the meantime, the deadline to be finished (set by me, and coinciding with me having to go back to work/Viva going to preschool) loomed ever closer. I realized I was very far off from finishing and I don't want to do a half-assed job. It is a really cool story and I feel privileged to have even had the idea occur to me. Speak to me of the evils of perfectionism some other time.

So a few months ago, I decided to put P.S. on the back burner and resurrect this contemporary love story that I had written about twenty pages of a few years ago. I figured it would take less time to write and that it would ultimately be more sellable. Sweet William says I should just churn out a "Waiting to Exhale/Disappearing Acts" type of book and then I won't have to go back to work (yes, he fully expects my first book to be a bestseller. He has more confidence in me than I do in myself). So I have been working on it when Viva sleeps (which is not enough, by the by: she has recently violently rejected the concept of Nap and must be coaxed into it through a long and elaborate process that leaves me exhausted), and while I love the characters, I'm not loving the turns the story has taken. I'm trying to re-design the basic story arc -- I know my two lead characters have to break up at some point, just as I know they will get back together ultimately. But it's what breaks them up that I'm getting stuck on, and what happens in between, and how long the separation is. I get bogged down and then I'm not liking it. What the hell, writing is work, right? I wanted to use my brain, yes? (Does it mean anything that when I was just typing the word "brain" it came out at first "barin"? Am I reading too much into this? Is my brain barren?)

Then I was at a kids' birthday party yesterday (Happy 6th, Gavin!), and one of my friends asked how the book was going. I told her it wasn't going very well at all, partly because of Viva's sleep issues and partly because I had to fire my babysitter.* So then I got to talking to my friend's mom, who was telling me I should switch to children's books because there's always a market for them and they're even quicker to write. Here is where we get ironic (apologies, Alanis Morrisette): I have already written a children's book. I have even illustrated parts of it. I wrote it for Viva while I was pregnant with her. It took me about half an hour to write it. Have I done anything with it? I think you know.

* I promise I will explain at some point why I fired Maria. There is just too much else going on.

So I can beat myself up for not working on this stuff, and then I can look at why. We have a ridiculous amount of family drama going on (from both sides), I am trying to plan Viva's birthday party, I am trying to toilet train Viva, I am trying to work out*, I am trying to keep our apartment clean, our larder well-stocked, and our child clean, clothed, shod and fed.

* Sweet William purchased a scale this weekend. It is clearly the work of the devil. My weight fluctuated a full four pounds yesterday (I think I weighed myself at least four separate times; hopefuly the novelty will wear off soon). Surely this means the scale is defective?

The bottom line is that I can't do everything. No, it's true. But don't tell anyone.

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