I am in a lack-of-sleep, PMSy funk. Callie’s been sick the last two days (I spent 2 hours and over $200 at the vet yesterday to find out she’s got tapeworm–joy–and of course we have to treat both dogs for this–I am, however, grateful that she doesn’ t have some hideously expensive intestinal knot that requires surgery we can’t afford), so DH and I haven’t gotten much sleep. But the funk started last week. Or maybe the week or two before that. I already wrote about how the brain dolls marched in and took over. I’ve been making an effort to take control of my book again. I did that full read-through over the weekend, figured out what threads I’d dropped, and I’ve been working ever since to fill in various gaps. I know the kind of scenes I need to write and where I need to write them. A couple of them I know a few more details about. But I feel blocked. I simply haven’t been able to get them written or finish plotting out specific details to fill in those holes. And I need to figure this out so I don’t get mired in the What Comes Next Trap that I so often fall into when I reach the Dreaded Middle.
In the midst of my funk last night, I picked up Chapter After Chapter, by Heather Sellers, which I won during last week’s LB&LI Blog Conference from Cheryl over at Learn To Write Fiction. (Thanks again, Cheryl!). The book itself is set up almost devotional style, with 33 short chapters around 5-8 pages apiece, each dealing with a specific topic and ending with a writing exercise. I read one last night and another this morning. Sellers has a very appealing style. I’ve decided that the length of each chapter is perfect such that I can read one every morning as I drink my tea. Beginning my day with a little thought on craft is certainly more appealing than some of the alternatives.
In any event, this morning I read about setting limits and cutting out the unessentials in my life in order to write. A lot of what was in there didn’t apply to me, as I’ve already done a great deal of limiting myself and setting measurable, daily goals in terms of my writing. With rare exceptions, I write every day. It may suck. It may not be much. But I try. Sellers talks about a class she taught about writing to a bunch of (I think) wannabe authors. She had the group write down their list of things they Can’t Live Without, then had them elminiate 3 things off that list. The participants then began to read out the things that they couldn’t live without, which seemed to baffle Sellers as she heard things like “Bunco” and “Book club”. Yeah, I’d be pretty baffled by that too. But it got me to thinking about what would be on my own list, what else I could eliminate. And frankly, I can’t think of anything. I cannot get rid of either of my two paying jobs. They are necessities for paying off debts. I have already cut out almost all of my social life but for an occasional weekly lunch with a couple of my coworkers or a once in a while weekend dinner with some of our couple friends. My generally anti-social husband looks like a social butterfly compared to me, and he’s concerned I’m becoming a hermit. Frankly, I like being a hermit. I’d be more of one if I could. I don’t have any “extra-curriculars” that can go. I rarely watch much TV. I can’t remember the last time I turned the TV on when DH wasn’t home. If there’s a free moment, I write or plot or do some other thing related to my work.
I guess there’s only one last thing left that I could give up or limit. My time online. I could shut down my Google Talk, not keep my crit partner with me most of the day, not blog or read others’ blogs. I’m sure I spend an alarming amount of time dealing with other online distractions. But I suppose I’m not ready to give that up yet. I already skim over the blog posts that don’t interest me. My feed reader helps me to only see what’s updated instead of clicking on everybody on my author blog list in my sidebar. And talking to Pot is part of my writing process, as she usually keeps me from going wildly off track.
Anyway, I’m interested. What are the things that you as a published or will-be-published writer can’t live without?