An interesting post about dealing with interruptions in a writing career, over at Book View Cafe, by Deborah J Ross.
Then life handed me Interruptions. Non-negotiable Interruptions. The good ones involved having to drop whatever new project I was working on for reviewing copy edits, revising to editorial feedback, or proofreading a book in production. It simply isn’t professional to tell your editor, “Yes, I know this book has a tight deadline but I simply can’t set aside this on-spec novella so you’ll simply have to wait until the muse takes a vacation.”
For me, many interruptions are provided by the natural world: gotta get these cuttings made right now or it will be too late. Gotta drop everything and take care of these premature puppies right now because, hello, puppies have priorty.
But! Unlike Debora Ross, I am comfortable writing fifty or a hundred pages of some project and setting it aside for months or even years. It makes me feel like that project is underway, like I have something to come back to. Which is true, obviously. Re-reading those pages usually gets me in the right frame of mind to pick up that project and go on with it.
I have two — no, wait, three — projects in that stage right now. Yay!
There’s a different kind of interruption that I hate, though. That’s when I have this GREAT SCENE in my head that I really want to write, but no uninterrupted days in which to work on it. That will make me just stop dead, waiting, because I want to enjoy that scene and I won’t be able to enjoy it if I have to work on it a mere hour at a time. So in this case, stopping is a kind of indulgence.
Deborah Ross also refers to a much more serious kind of interruption, though: interruptions forced on us by a real crisis.
The thing is that when we return to projects suspended because of crisis, we do so as a different people. Interruptions due to crash-and-burn deadlines may strengthen critical skills, but they don’t generally cause us to reach deep into ourselves and emerge stronger but scarred. I’m not the writer or the person I was when I drafted those shorter pieces or that fractured novel. I’m something different.
Yes, this would be so true. I’m hoping not to have too many really serious crises, but you know, I don’t imagine anybody gets through life without a couple.
Anyway, nice article! Click through and read it, if you like.
2 thoughts on “Writing & Interruptions”
Rereading Land of the Burning Sands. I just love Lady Emre’s and Tehre’s dialogue in that book!
Thanks! I did more research per line for Lady Tehre than any character ever. She’s one of my favorites!