Why do we write? I asked myself that the other day as I tried to put together a compilation of short stories and realized that I wasn’t having any fun. It had become a painful chore. But it had become a chore because I was weary of reading, re-reading and editing the same pieces over and over again until I could repeat them verbatim in my sleep.
So off I went to find an activity that would temporarily wipe out the hard drive in my mind. Naturally, the first logical diversion is to take a walk. But you can easily walk and think. A half hour later, I found I was mentally crazy glued to the project worse than if I were actually sitting in front of my laptop and even more thoughts were now swirling through my head.
Later that afternoon, I convinced my husband that we needed to go the driving range and hit some golf balls. I can sheepishly admit that I was so distracted and performed so poorly that I considered selling my clubs to the first person who showed any interest in buying them.
So how did I lose my focus and why did I feel distraught?
It took me all day until I was able to face my dilemma and realize what the problem might be. I was past the pleasure phase. I wasn’t having any fun because I was past the creative part of the process. I was no longer able to escape into the lives of my characters. I was finished designing my settings, dreaming up plots, and crafting new ideas and situations.
Yes, I was into the dreaded, painful editing process consisting of all the menial chores like verifying facts, names and spelling; confirming continuity of the various plots; rechecking grammar; and making certain every story was set-up in the same uniform format.
A writer friend of mine said that now is time when you need little rewards and incentives to nudge yourself toward your final goal of producing a complete, clean manuscript.
Oh, please, tell me she was referring to chocolate, jewelry, shopping or a good bottle of wine.