It’s hard for me to believe it’s been 20 months (almost to the day, coincidentally) since I started the blog. I’ve taken it seriously and I think it’s done wonders both for my writing itself and my mental state while trying to find my footing as a struggling author. The friends I’ve made and support I’ve gotten from WordPress and beyond has far exceeded my naive expectations when I sat dumbly in front of my computer in February 2013. That being said, it’s time for a wee little break.
It’s nothing serious, no big departure, just a little break. And believe me when I say, it’s not you, it’s me.
See, here’s what happened: when I started the blog, I was still figuring out what I was trying to do with my writing (something I’m still trying to figure out, but that’s beside the point). Even though I’d finished a novella and thought (god help me, I really did) I was ready to try and get it published or self-publish, I still had no real idea what I was doing. I was like the monkey they say you could sit in front of a keyboard and eventually it would write Shakespeare—except instead of Shakespeare it was a mediocre-to-poor kidnap/torture thriller.
But I really wanted to get after it and make things happen, and so I forced myself to jump in with both feet and start blogging. As I did so, I realized how far behind I really was. I was nowhere near ready to publish anything but blog posts, and I decided the best thing to do was stick to a strict schedule and keep at it. I’ve tried my best to crank out at least one post a week and, with a few exceptions, I’ve done a pretty good job of doing just that. I was using the blog as a crutch to hold me up and keep me writing while I tried to hone my skills and strengthen my story-telling muscles. There were ebbs and flows, but I kept at it.
Then I hit a patch a couple months ago where I felt dead in the water. I had drafts of short stories that I didn’t know how to finish, and longer projects that I couldn’t wrap my head around. I finally decided on a project to make the first novel and went to it, writing about 16k words before the new job and life caused me to stall out a little bit—then I got stuck again.
I went into the comments on one of Chuck Wendig’s posts and whined about how I felt stuck and couldn’t seem to make myself put words on the page. I received a comment back from author Kay Camden (link to her awesome website). It was simple, succinct, and to the point:
“Stop thinking. Start writing. Open the vomit hatch. Let it out.” (NOTE: DO NOT GOOGLE THE PHRASE “VOMIT HATCH.”)
That might not sound like much, but it was exactly what I needed to hear when I needed to hear it (sidenote: what is it about vomit as a metaphor for writing? it’s so oddly fitting). I said to myself, You know what? She’s right. What the hell are you waiting for? And so I kicked myself in the ass and started typing. In the two months that followed, I proceeded to knock out about 50k words and finish the rough draft. Not exactly the Tasmanian Devil behind the keyboard, but as productive a stretch as I’ve ever had.
And the best part? It’s hasn’t really let up. I wanted to let the story breathe a little before I jumped into edits and rewrites, so I turned to three unfinished short stories and have made tremendous progress with those, finishing two and hopefully wrapping up the third in the next few days. By next week I should be ready to tackle the second draft of the novel.
My late friend Mike (RIP, buddy) once compared writing to having a fever (there it is again—writing as a kind of sickness), where you’re consumed by this need, this compulsion to get the stories out of your head and onto the page. I never really felt that way. I mean, I have stories to tell and all that, but I could go a day without writing and be just fine. Two days, even. Hell, a week. But once I opened the vomit hatch I haven’t been able to close it completely since. Every spare minute I have I want to be writing, rewriting, or editing, or it’s time wasted. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch my TV shows and movies; I still read my books. But you know what I mean.
I have Vomit Hatch Fever.
All of which brings me back to this dear, sweet blog o’mine. There have been more than one occasion in the last year and eight months where I felt like I had run out of things to write about, and I would manage to pull a post out of thin air and make my self-imposed weekly deadline. Lately it feels like all I’ve been writing are book reviews, and to be honest I’m bored with that. Couple that with the fact that November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), when many writers (and bloggers) are strapped to a chair with a coffee IV and a catheter (possible slight exaggeration) trying to meet the challenge of writing 50k words by the end of the month, and it just seemed like a natural time to take a little break so I can focus solely on writing and recharge the blogging batteries.
So this will be my last post for a while, probably until the beginning of December. I’m going spend November knee deep in semicolons and em-dashes, with piles of unnecessary commas littered about like punctuation shrapnel in the Great Writing War. Whenever I think of something that would be a good idea for the blog I’m going to jot it down so I have things to write about when I come back, and I have a feeling the site is due for a bit of a facelift, so things may look a little different when you visit next.
Any of you that want to keep in touch outside of WordPress and haven’t done so already, feel free to send me a friend request on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.
I hope to come back revitalized and full of great posts. My biggest fear? That you wonderful readers will find another insecure, socially awkward writer to follow in my absence, and when I confront you about it, sitting in the glow of your screen reading that other person’s blog, you cry out defensively: