March 20th, 2013


(no subject)

Coffee shop, this morning the music is good enough to keep my earbuds out, at least while I’m editing. It’s a No-Email-‘Til-You-Write Day. You talk to yourself in the second person when you’re trying to enforce discipline, self-discipline being easier when it’s external. It’s easier to check in with a writing buddy or sit down with a writing buddy or remember suddenly, while writing, that you owe an email to a writing buddy and maybe you should just stop and do that, get it out of your head so you can move on, right?


Don’t touch the fucking email, you say to yourself. Yesterday was a wash, you had a headache, you had PMS, it wasn’t the time to go to the emotional place the manuscript is going, you needed a day to lie in bed and play on the computer and pop Aleve and drink a big bottle of water, the headache’s intensity a relief that it wasn’t just an excuse.

Because here’s what you know: you’re not working hard enough. That five to ten pages a day isn’t fast enough. Someone else who works harder is going to get published first.

So you take on another project. Smart. You’re going to write a non-fiction book, the stars are aligned, you’ve got people with a lifestyle brand who want a coffee table book. They’ve already been covered by national media, they’re reality TV veterans, they have the blurbs and the physical beauty and the uniqueness of concept and Thank God! a publicist already. If you can write this proposal, you can sell it. It will sell.

And the rub is, you can’t fuck this one up.

I can’t fuck this one up.

The lifestyle brand couple consists of one former student, mine, and his girlfriend who meets me with, “I’ve heard how amazing you are!”

Fucking this one up means not just losing the project, losing the project that’s ready to sell and that I’m ready to write—this is why I’ve been reading agent blogs and design blogs and critiquing other people’s manuscripts for free for three years, this is what I was preparing for, what I am now prepared for, so I can sit down in a meeting and confidently ask, what’s your mission and how will this book serve it? and confidently say, here’s the timeline I envision, here’s what we’ll pitch to agents, here’s how to find the agents we’ll pitch it to—fucking it up means losing your former student’s respect. Letting him down. Showing him his faith in you is unfounded.

And that’s why writing a blog post is technically “a break.” Going to the coffee shop is “work”. Why you have to plan your time two months ahead so you won’t get off the rails completely when your other job starts, so you won’t lose your best writing buddy when you change time zones again.

That’s why being a beautiful creative artistic spirit means getting out of bed early and putting in 8 hours, trying to make more of those hours typing hours and less of them “thinking” hours. (“Thinking” is what you call driving around trying to decide if you want to find another coffee shop, switch chairs and do another session, or go home and take a nap because writing is so much work, just like coal mining in KwaZulu-Natal or selling gum on the corner in Mumbai, because when you’re white and well-off and your own boss you have to make it sound like work as much as possible, build layers between yourself and kind of a whiner, aren’t you?)

Break’s over.


Words today: 3166
Pages edited, ready to start tomorrow: 9
Amount of career progress: Still not enough