Does writing ever get easier?
It’s a question I find myself pondering as I struggle to finish my latest novel. For some reason, I keep thinking that it will. I want to believe that at some point, I’ll be able to finish a story as easily as I started it. But so far, it has yet to happen. So far, with the exception of The Letter Z, the one story that burst from my literary loins with barely a hint of pain, every single thing I’ve written has been harder than the one before.
To date, I have three novels and one novella published with Dreamspinner Press, all part of my Coda series. I also have a short story with Silver Publishing called One More Soldier. On Valentine’s Day, my short story Putting Out Fires will be released, and in April, my novella Paris A to Z (both are part of the Coda series). I have another novel called Between Sinners and Saints that’s in the process of finding its publishing home. And now, I have this latest book.
The working title is Oestend, although I doubt that will be what it’s called in the end. This book is a departure from my comfort zones in many ways, not least of all because it’s not contemporary. Not even close. It’s a quasi-fantasy, not-quite steampunk, old-west haunted house mild bondage tale. After much debate as to how to classify it, I have settled on the rather broad and ambiguous term, “speculative fiction.” If you had asked me about this book two weeks ago, I would have gushed about how excited I was. “It’s going to be amazing!” I would have said. But now?
Don’t get me wrong. It’ll be fine. Although right at this moment I’ll tell anyone who asks that this book is going to kill me, the truth is, this is all part of the process (for me, at any rate). This is a stage, and it’s a stage I’ve gone through with each and every thing I’ve ever written (except TLZ). It’s the stage where I I’m so close to the end, I can practically taste it. The finish line is there, in sight. It teases me in the morning and taunts me every night. I write and I write and I write, but I can’t seem to get any closer to the end.
I was whining about this yesterday to my friend Jane Kindred, and she said, “Yeah, it’s the end of the third trimester. It will pass.” And the analogy is so beautifully accurate, I felt suddenly enlightened. It is the end of the third trimester!
When I was pregnant with my daugher, I breezed through those early months. I think I had one day of morning sickness. I worked at an OB/Gyn office and the ultrasound techs would call me every time they had an open slot. I must have had twenty ultrasounds, and I never had reason to worry. “Everything’s perfect!” my doctor told me at each check-up. “You’re the ideal OB patient.”
I was happy. I was glowing. I was absolutely radiant with my fabulous maternity wardrobe and my cute little basketball belly. Until…
THE 38TH WEEK.
In a matter of days, I swear I grew from the size of a normal pregnant woman to something roughly the size of a killer whale. My face, my hands, my feet - everything became bloated and huge. Two weeks away from delivery, and not a single maternity item in my closet could cover my massive girth. My hips suddenly hurt, my back hurt, my feet hurt….
Well, you know. Many of you have been there.
I asked my doctor what to do to speed things on their way, and he said, “Walk, or have sex. But not at the same time.” (Ever practical, was Dr. Ludwin).
So I walked. I walked and I walked and I walked. Around the block, over and over with my mother at my side. Never mind that my legs and back were screaming with fatigue. Never mind that my feet, which were too fat to fit in anything but flip-flips, were so sore I thought I would cry (and sometimes I did). I walked. And yes, I tried the sex thing too, god help me. But mostly, I walked.
That’s where I am right now with Oestend.
Now, please don’t get me wrong. I love my job, and in time, I’ll love this book again too. Once the first draft is done, things will fall into place. Then it’s revisions and edits, and I could do those all damn day! I’ll revise and edit ‘til the Oestend cows come home, and I may even whistle while I do it.
But first, I have to finish this #$%*$#$%# first draft.
So I will walk. With my flip-flips and my tired hips and my poor-me attitude. Eventually, I’ll look up, and I’ll be at the end. But until then, I’ll keep walking. And I dare say I’ll keep whining. Feel free to ignore me. Pat me on the head, shake your head and say, “Tsk, tsk.”
It will all be all right in the end.
Marie Sexton is the author of the Coda series, and One More Soldier. Her books can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/4l73zns
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