I am a cyclical creature, but living inside the cycle, subject to its awful whims, it doesn’t SEEM like a cycle. It seems like what is real and true. It is partially because I ma not SEASONAL, so I can’t just say, OH It is WINTER, I get blue in winter. For me, the cycle is built around the books.
Here is how writing a book goes:
1) Have a big idea. Prance around. Be enchanted with myself. Kiss my dogs on the lips. Kiss strange dogs on the lips. Be sassy. Purchase shoes.
2) Write a bunch of it. See that it sucks. See why it sucks. Bog down.
3) Suffer. Lie down. Cry. Watch bad television. Read comforting books I have read fifty times before, my go to soother-books, SO often reread that I remember individual sentences and wait for them with a weepy, sick nostalgia: Persuasion. The Solace of Leaving Early. The Hobbit. Beauty. The Passion. Red Dragon.
4) Announce to Scott that I CANNOT write this book. Announce to EVERYONE that I cannot write this book. Announce to Scott and everyone that I am quitting writing and I cannot write this book, and then go lie in a dim room and cry. For days. Or weeks. Sometimes months. Eat transgressive foods.
5) Begin espousing Crazy Farm Plan! From a prone position, begin to mournfully toot and hoot about how I HATE where we live, I HATE my house, I HATE the Traffic, I HATE that WALMART came and murdered my small town, I HATE how we have turned into a suburb, I MISS THE COUNTRY, I HATE the McMansions, I hatehatehate the HATEFUL MALL, I HATE that if I want to go out to eat we have to drive 45 minutes to Decatur because I REFUSE to give 50 bucks to some AWFUL CHAIN that just hands you crap food that is BAD for you and drowning in fat to disguise the fact that it is NOT GOOD FOOD.
I ONLY want to have goats. And a turkey named Gustav that we never never eat. And piglings. And a horse and a saucy pony to be his friend. DUCKS!!!!! I say, WE WILL GROW DUCKS AND OUR OWN ORGANIC VEGETABLES! (Nevermind that I have never so much as planted a HERB in my garden beds, never so much as PULLED A WEED, never so much as turned on a SPRINKLER, nevermind that I hate dirt and bugs and for nature things to touch me! I am going to FARM!
I wallow in tears and filth and never get out of yoga pants and swear this is all I want, but am too dank and sorrowful to begin to actually make it happen.
6) Realize what I have done wrong with the book, and BOOM, Hello, suddenly I am Manic Pleased Me. I come roaring up fronm the black and salty depths and I feverishly scribble as much as I can each day and in between the scribbling, I do 50 hundred MORE things that have been put off and off during the wallowing….
This is the time when closets get cleaned out, when rooms get painted, when parties get planned, organized, cooked for, and executed, when I runrunrun in my pumped up kicks as IF I WERE being shot at, but I kinda like it.
OH HOW I LOVE PHASE SIX.
And when it comes roaring through me like a TRAIN OF ENERGETIC DELIGHT, I start actually farm shopping, start trying to apply for mortgages, start calling up chicken farmers and asking for sample crates of hens.
Scott has to STOP ME because, you see, he hates crazy farm plan. He is pretty sure it will end with him feeding the sheeps and ploughing the back 40 while I lie in the bed and cry and watch every possible episode of Firefly a bunch more times and curse Fox for screwing me out of my rightful 5 – 9 seasons of its amazingness, all the while saying, “I can’t write this book…”
Everyone I love recognizes these phases and says , in the black, bad part, “This is just how you do, remember last book? When you did this same thing?” And I genuinely do not remember it all that clearly…Like childbirth, the really awful part fades when the joy of creation part comes.
This time, when phase 6 hit, Lydia said OH HI THERE, PERSON! I KNOW YOU! YOU ARE THE ONE WHO GETS THE SHIZZES DONE. I KNEW YOU WOUL DBE ALONG SHORTLY.
You see, I am writing my 8th book now, what will be my 6th published, and the cycle is readily apparent and mapped and traced and perfectly understood by EVERYONE outside of it.
Even I recognize NOW, finally, that there is a pattern – for about 4 books I told them all they were cray-cray for reals, that I did NOTHING like this for Book Previous, but now, finally, for the last four books, I am starting to see they are right.
And it matters not a fig. Knowing doesn’t get me out of bed. Knowing doesn’t; make the weeping stop. Knowing can’t kickstart the manic, OH WOULD THAT IT COULD, because oh oh oh do I LOVE me some manic! But the wild unstoppable energy happens when the book gels in my head, and I cant; find a way to MAKE that happen on my planned timetable.
The only thing that knowing has changed….is Crazy Farm Plan. Knowing gave it TEETHS.
To be continued, but, before I continue, are any of you this way? Cyclical? Is it seasonal or creative or driven by some other awful force? WHO TOLD YOU? Or did you somehow know yourself, even though you lived inside it, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, is there anything you can do to jumpstart OUT of the mean red parts?