When last you read about it, I was working obsessively on my new book. Well, I'm still obsessed with it - moreso than ever since I got initial positive feedback from a publishing friend, who thinks the project has serious legs, and recommended just a few small revisions to make it stronger and more saleable.
The past few weeks though have been such a whirlwind that I've had no time to get back to writing. My practice has been busy, and I hired an assistant (love you, Mayim!) who has been reorganizing my office (and soon my files and data and LIFE). Inspired by the great redecorating job she did in my office, Will and I have also been doing a bunch of household improvements/redecorating, projects we'd been promising ourselves we'd do but had postponed indefinitely. Now we're psyched! (Ok, admittedly, Will's been building/installing/refinishing/fixing, while most of my activity has been in the Shop-Till-I-Drop arena and most of it on eBay.) Very fun, very time-consuming, and thus very difficult to focus on writing.
Writing for me, I should add, is not just about sitting down and doing the writing. That part is easy - the actual writing, especially for this book, flows, because I've been thinking and talking about the subjects I'm now writing about for years. Plus I have a huge treasure-chest now of research that I've accumulated over the past couple of years. Nothing makes a writer happier than having reams of well-organized notes crammed with tasty facts, all the dross pared away.
The real issue, as always, is solitude: having time to disconnect from daily life and get lost in the writing. I can blog on the fly, email off the top of my head, and even poop out short essays lickity-splittity. But massive projects (which this is, if not in length at least in ambition) require a whole Zen kind of thing. It means no distractions (no phones, no emails, and strict limits on poodle cuddling), no breaks except for absolute body necessities (like going to the bathroom or getting another cup of coffee - kind of an endless cycle, if you know what I mean), and dire warnings to family members: DO NOT DISTURB (unless it is to worship my ass, in which case I suppose an exception can be made). It means listening to music that moves me into another plain, and feeling that everything is exactly where it should be - clutter and chaos are the enemies of the well-ordered writer's mind.
When it comes to writing, my husband understands more and better than anyone I've ever known just what writing requires - in part because he's a writer himself, in part because he has always believed in me, more than I've ever believed in myself. Like me, he feels that a writer's (any artist's, really) work is more important than the writer; a writer is the vehicle, not the destination; and writing is in part a process of negating the self and giving everything to the work. When you're inside a big project, you can write or you can live. If you're fortunate, you will live through your writing and that is more than good enough. Will won't nag me about how much I'm smoking or how much coffee I'm drinking or whether I'm sleeping enough when I'm writing. The writing comes first. Or perhaps that's just how I see it, but I think that even if he doesn't feel the same, he totally understands that I do, and he respects my need to do it that way.
But the only really good writing company I've ever had is my older dog, Bobo. He's been with me through enough writing projects that he totally understands the drill: sprawl relaxed near my feet on the floor, semi-dozing, one eye half-open, a smile on his face, a comforting furry presence who will wake only when I take a break and then smile at me more broadly and lazily flap his waggy tail against the floor. He'll stay that way for hours at a time when I write. So cozy!
Yesterday was my first real "day off" in two weeks (no therapy) and I let Will know the night before that I intended to isolate myself in the master bedroom and do nothing but write from morning until night. He helped insure that I was safe from all interruptions. My headphones blocked out all the merry noises echoing through the house as visitors came and went. Occasionally I would venture down to refill my coffee cup - feeling (and possibly looking) like a ghost. In the evening, it took me an hour or more to readjust to being social. But oh happy joy: I got a bunch of writing done.
I joined everyone for dinner. When I finally crawled back up to bed, it was chilly! Will had gone up to open windows and air out the bedroom so I wouldn't have to sleep in the haze of smoke I'd created while writing. What can I say? I love the big lunk for these small and gentle gestures of caring.
Blogging will be on and off for another week or so, until I have enough (the first 100 - 125 pages) to submit it to editors. The next step is to find out whether anyone will buy this book!