Writing a book, I’ve discovered, is only the proverbial tip of the ice burg. Creating the story, the setting, the characters who live in your heart as surely as your own children do – all fluff compared to what follows. The search for a publisher (and yay, I found the most wonderful man in the world, Lyle Perez, and the awesome Rainstorm Press) the creation of a blog, a facebook page, a presence on Linkd, Twitter and oh dear, who else . . . all become a prominent fixation on your day-to-day horizon.
Which brings me to the meat of this post, and what is likely to be a most unpopular approach to ultimately keeping your sanity. Here it is: take a breath. As when you’re doing yoga and you realize your chest is about to burst. Breathe. Understand that you are enmeshed in what is perhaps the loneliest and most self-serving profession known to man, and so, you are in danger of becoming isolated from, well, life. The very thing you are writing about.
Steinbeck took Charley travelling for a reason.
I have two very different jobs, and yet I’ve discovered parallels in the way that each encroaches on my existence, nearly to the obliteration of all else. A neighbor’s house fire, or an infant’s imminent birth can yank me from my home life at any time. Sounds horrible, but the truth is, I love this. I live for it. And my characters (who are lately crying for promotion) have the same demanding shrill as the pager; sometimes I can’t sleep for the noise in my head. I have to respond, and if you are a writer reading this, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In my EMT world, we say, “Breathe. Smell the flowers and blow out the candles.” Another lovely parallel because it applies to both of my professions. Candles and flowers are all about the passage of time, and taking notice of them means just that. Don’t let life run away from you – children grown, tasks abandoned, leaves turned to gold – without noticing its passage. Take time to recharge, and while you’re doing so, look around you and realize how beautiful everything is.
Fuel for the next book.