Jealousy as Inspiration, Creative ADD, and Experimentation in 2018
I must be doing something right with this new book because I want to write anything but this book right now.
I’m usually prone to distraction (creative distraction at least – regular distraction is a lifelong struggle) early on by new and shiny ideas, but that’s always gone away after I settle in to a project. I can usually get 30 or 40 thousand words into a book before I start freaking out and considering abandoning the current project for something new. But with the book I’m working on now, not only am I being bombarded by new ideas all the time, I’m constantly fighting against the urge to take my multiple, diverse POV book and cull it down to just the POV of the middle-aged white guy because that seems easier and because, despite almost killing my entire desire to ever write again, I still want to write the next Great American PI Novel.
Luckily, this is one time professional jealously can be good, because the only thing I can do to compete in the marketplace is write the best book I can and that is definitely NOT the easy book. When I do manage to focus and get to work on the current book with the current idea, I’m enjoying it and enjoying trying new things. For instance, I had a scene the other day that just wasn’t working the way I thought it should, it was something I had in my outline, but in execution it went against the character I had created. So my work ground to a halt for a long time because every single piece of fiction I have ever written was written straight through from beginning to end. But I was no closer to figuring out how to make that wonky scene work, and I had another great scene after it ready to go and just waiting to be written, so…OMG I can’t even believe I’m about to say this…I skipped ahead and wrote the other scene. It felt so dirty and so right all at the same time. Even better, it helped me figure out how to fix the wonky scene. I suspect this will happen more and more as I work through this book, which is the most complex thing thing I’ve ever attempted.
And let’s talk a bit about professional jealousy for a second. I used to struggle A LOT with it, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been able to enjoy my career and the breaks I’ve been given and the experiences I’ve been able to have, but I still find myself driven to a certain degree by what other people are doing with their careers. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as long as the toxic elements of it don’t creep in and I don’t change what I’m doing or who I am to compete. But I think gauging the successes of my peers helps inspire me on those days where the writing is going terribly and I wonder if I might be happier without it in my life, and then I see a friend get a great book deal or sign a TV deal or something like that and I know that I want (some) of those same things too. Also, a new fun thing my brain has been doing to me lately is obsessing over doomsday scenarios for publishing. I once spent almost an entire week not writing because I read a bad earnings report for Barnes & Noble and was convinced publishing was going to come crashing down within the year, so why even bother.
Stupid brains, right?