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Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lying Fallow, or Burn Notice Obsession Explained

This delightful cartoon is not me. I have a kick-ass work ethic when it comes to writing. I will write on vacation, in a hospital bed, in the middle of the night, one-handed with my arm numb from jiggling the fussy baby, on a playground chasing after a hyperactive child. I write on computers, notebooks, napkins, scraps of toilet paper. 
(Yes, I have run to the bathroom when an idea hit me, and jotted things down on there.) If I'm stuck on one book, I'll work on another for a bit. Stuck on both, I'll do some blogging. This work ethic is not true for other aspects of my life (see cleaning/organizing) but as far as the creative process, I'm in it all the way. 

So, when I find myself Not Writing, but instead, obsessively watching Burn Notice--me, a person who has spent great chunks of her life without a television--it can take me a bit to figure out why. Like I did yesterday. Yes, I'm procrastinating. And the minute I realized that, boom, out poured the beginning of an outline for the problematic novel revision, not to mention a rough draft of a query letter for same. (I start working on my query letter at about the same time as the novel, because a) I hate writing queries, b) they are so danged hard it can take me years to polish one and c) my writing does not tend to fit a standard mold/genre, so I have to spend a long time finding comparable works and studying their jacket copy.) 

Probably the Muse Clio
Creativity responds brilliantly to the old nailing your butt to a chair routine. Yes, you can light candles at the altar of the votive muse, but you're better off hitting the page every day and writing anything--even something terrible--than waiting for that lightning bolt of inspiration to strike. 

And yet--sometimes, you just have to let the field lie fallow. Or perhaps a better metaphor would be let the fountain build up some water pressure. 

Then you sit down to work and boom--the stuff comes bursting out. 

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