Welcome to My Life

Tess Gerritsen perfectly captures my life in her blog today:

Night before last, I woke up in a sweat.  I couldn’t get back to
sleep because I was having an anxiety attack about my next book.  Oh,
it’s nothing new — I have these from time to time, and sometimes I’ll
lie awake for hours, mulling over what’s wrong with my plot, whether
I’ll be able to fix it, whether I’ll meet my deadline.  When I finally
do fall asleep, that anxiety follows me in the form of dreams.  Mine
usually involve showing up at school for a test and suddenly realizing:
I FORGOT TO ATTEND ANY CLASSES!  But I know what those dreams are
really all about: how the writing is going.

No matter where I am or what else I may be doing, this job is never far from my mind.

[…]I can be sitting on a beach on vacation, yet I’ll never really relax
because I know that there’s a half-written novel waiting on my desk and
I have only a few months to finish it.  I can’t remember the last time
I really, truly let go of the job.

She’s writing about herself, but she could just as easily be writing about me. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t feel the pressure of a book or script deadline or spent my "free time" thinking about a story I was working on or a plot I was supposed to come up with.  When I wake up at 3:30 am with jet-lag, the thoughts that keep me from getting back to sleep always involve a plot point or anxiety about meeting a deadline. I’m not complaining, far from it. It’s just nice to know that I’m not alone.

4 thoughts on “Welcome to My Life”

  1. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one! I lie awake with my characters acting out whole scenes in my head for hours. Sometimes I wake up in the morning thinking I’ve been awake all night, only to realize that the time I was awake and working out scenes morphed into me doing the same thing in my dreams. No wonder I’m tired when I wake up!

  2. A subject dear to my heart. I’ve written 24 Western novels and each and every one has caused me a major anxiety attack. Alas, the agony doesn’t end with the completion of the book. I send it to New York…a week passes in silence…then another…and another…
    “Well, Emily,” I say to the missus, “this time I’ve finally been and gone and done it.”
    “Done what?”
    “Sent a manuscript to my editor that’s so bad, so unspeakably vile, he read the first chapter and it gave him a massive heart attack. Bang! Stone dead at his desk.”
    Emily sighs and says: “You’re a lunatic.”
    Me, I gaze into the amber depths of my Jim Beam and sigh: “Mark my words, I’m done. No more book contracts for Joe. It’s over, Emily, all over.”
    “You’re a lunatic.”
    I’ve had this coversation 24 times, and if my editor is still alive, I’ll probably have it again.
    Ah yes, pity the poor, wretched scribe.
    Joseph A. West

  3. Great author Richard North Patterson once told reporters that he has never in his entire life experienced any stress while preparing books. He says it’s because writing has always come naturally to him. That he always sleeps like a baby because he is extremely confident in his writing abilities, and when he’s writing can write non-stop without taking a break except for lunch. He said he always finishes his books before deadline and never has to revise anything because his books always come out perfectly the first time around. Maybe you should ask him for advice Lee.

  4. Lee,
    Hey, give yourself a break. You’ve been slapped around for your work (volunteer!) on the MWA membership standards committee all year. (no good deed goes unpunished). And now you’re beating yourself up.
    STOP IT!
    Happy holidays.


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