From Holly: R&R


Vision 8


From Holly



Holly Lisle

Copyright © 2002, Holly Lisle, All Rights Reserved



Every writer has things he’s really good at, and things he’s terrible at, and I am no exception to this rule.  All skills are important, and one of the most important, I’m discovering, is the ability to put work down and walk away sometimes.

Whatever my other writing flaws may be, I know about this one quite well, and have for years.  I have a typical workaholic personality -- I like my work, it energizes me, it consumes me, and when I’m not writing, I feel maimed.

So I just finished doing a complete 110,000-word novel in sixty days, from a scratch start and including rewrite, revision, and submission.  Prior to that, I’d scrapped five hundred pages on the same novel -- two large starts that both failed to go where they needed to.  I’d also finished and heavily rewritten Vincalis the Agitator and Memory of Fire, had redesigned the website from top to bottom; had written a couple of articles, four different very long proposals, three of which didn’t make it past my agent and one that was simply not what my editor hoped to see, a lot of community posts, a ton of e-mails; and had found time to hang out with my family and do a few things that mattered there.

I finished The Wreck of Heaven on January 31.  Finished the rewrite, sent it off, and sat down to get to work on version five of the proposal.

And nothing happened.  I tried to write an overdue nonfiction article.  Nothing happened.  I posted a few things in the community, but in most cases I think I should have kept my mouth shut.  E-mails -- nerts on them, too.  I’ve answered only the merest tip of the e-mail iceberg recently, including somehow managing not to answer an e-mail from one of my editors for over a week.

It would be obvious to anyone but a complete idiot that I needed a rest -- and yet, every single day that I haven’t written, I’ve driven myself nuts because I haven’t written. 

It feels like having a doctor tell me, “You have been breathing twenty-four hours of every day for the last forty-one years, and you really need to just take a little break from it.  Take a few days off.  You’ll breathe better when you come back to it.”

I have that same level of, “But I’ll DIE,” panic right now.

At the moment, I envy people with day jobs that they hate.  People who can put their feet up when they get home and not work, and not think about working, and not give a damn that they’re not working.  For just one week, I would like to be able to turn off writing and not feel like I was in the process of dying.

One week.

R&R is a necessary skill.  If you don’t have it, you have my sympathy -- and a recommendation that you need to find a way to develop it before you find yourself exhausted and unable to step off the treadmill.  If you’re a good relaxer, hang on to that.  It’s a necessary skill.  From here in the middle of the hamster treadmill, running hard and getting nowhere fast, I salute you.

On to Vision.  This issue, we’re bringing you the family side of writing -- the Parents and Children issue.  Writing about parents and kids and writing as a parent or a kid.  Also a workshop on description, an interview with Vera Nazarian, community news and updates, and much more.  If you’ve just found us, welcome.  If you’ve been with us for a while, welcome back. 

Holly Lisle