This is from 2013, on page 2 of my very first book:
As you see I got in a reference to it very early, because, well, that was how I had recalled then feeling. Fiction is rooted in fact, as my uncle once told me. And indeed it is: From the middle of Wednesday and Thursday into Friday, I was again feeling that lousy way I have felt intermittently since I was a teenager (although, by now, thankfully, it doesn’t happen nearly as often as it once did).
I suspect I know the source of this latest acute headache pain: It’s about the soon to be new book. I recall I may feel this way around now. Eventually crunch time is upon you and there is nowhere to hide. Dear G-d is this finally the end of it all as I get laughed off of the internet?
I was down for most of Wednesday. By Wednesday evening, I could at least look at a screen again, and I spent some time on my new Twitter mostly reading. Plunging more than ever into what might be termed “#WritingCommunity Twitter,” I discovered you may indeed get sucked in and find yourself spending too much time on it seeing the likes of this:
I wouldn’t think it’s honest. Did Roger Ebert review movies he had not sat through? And why the heck am I even directing my brain to think about this?
Don’t get me wrong: you know I’m not against fun and having laughs. And there is nothing wrong with seeing what others are up to and chatting about. Social media provides an outlet for both – especially if you, as a writer, are feeling isolated.
But you can also sleepwalk into spending too much time “messing around.” His last book had been published in 2004. I remember my mother around 2010 once having a go about my uncle’s internet behavior. After getting off of the phone with him, in her kitchen Mom threw up her hands in disgust to me and declared something like, “Hemingway keeps moaning he can’t write another novel. He sure as hell could if he’d just stay the hell off of Facebook.”
I have learned lots more myself about that since 2013. I fuss over my words and my sentences over hundreds of pages. I do it alone – between myself and that text… because that is how it is done…
I see many writers claiming they “don’t have enough time to write.” Which is probably true. But if you scroll through some of their Twitter timelines, seeing how much time some of them seem to devote to tweeting and replying each day, I do find myself also thinking: How do you actually find the time to write anything?
I know that “self-promotion” is required and social media is one way to do so. Yet you also have to know when to draw a line. When I’m writing I try to be somewhat “structured” on social media.
You may have noticed. When I post here it is usually early in the morning (my time); and around then I may use Instagram; and now I may tweet. After that “burst,” that’s usually about all. I check back hours later to see replies and scroll through what everyone else has been up to. Being disciplined is I believe vital.
Would any of those novels have been written if Fitzgerald, James, and Tolstoy had spent good chunks of their available writing time on Twitter? I’m only half-kidding there. Think about it.
I have been through my latest manuscript several times and made corrections upon corrections upon corrections. (It is “epic” and it is meant to be: 600 pages and 150,000 words.) Every time I re-open it I see something else I want to change. I want it perfect – which I know as well is impossible in this life to achieve.
I guess it is no surprise my head hurts. Have a good Saturday, wherever you are. Three day weekend here in the UK! 🙂