Book Stew

Tomato Soup Stew by ontheflyrecipes from FlickrIt’s been well over a year since I’ve written a book, and I forgot what a strange process this is.

Well, it’s strange at the best of times, but over the past few years I’ve, for various reasons, mellowed out a lot concerning my path as an author and a lot of the stress I used to heap upon myself is no longer present. A couple of weeks ago I even wrote up a contract with my book basically stating that I wasn’t going to let it drive me bonkers.

Which is good…I think. Then again, sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to craft the sorts of books I want to without that stress.

Part of the process of being less self-flagellating while writing was letting myself accept that I know what I’m doing here. I have yet to hit critical mass with my audience, but the readers I do have are absurdly praising, from the Spanish publisher of The Hunger Games to the Prague film student making a film out of one of my short stories…no art holds value for everyone but it’s becoming clear that my art holds value for a nice solid number of people. I just need to market it correctly to those who don’t know it yet.

But accepting that, and then writing with that confidence in mind, is so freaking strange. I’m not used to being calm while I write, to thinking clearly and not panicking. I’m not used to approaching a project with steady nerves. I have no idea how to write like this. And, in my wonderfully stupid meta moments, I wonder if accepting myself as an artist so that I can work in peace removes the fear and stress that I require to work in peace as an artist.

Basically the question on my mind is this: Do I need to suffer to write?

I don’t have an answer to that but I worry at times that I’ll finish this book and think I’ve done some good work but when I release it my readers will say, “Yeah, that was okay, but he’s lost some of his edge.”

Of course there’s always the chance that I’ll be able to write better with a clear head. I mean, I have no clue where my ideas and characters and scene structures come from. They don’t exist one moment and then they do exist the next.

Everything I’ve created has come out of nothing, has popped into my head while walking down the street or while solving my Rubik’s Cube or while banging away at my keyboard.

Ideas don’t exist until they do, but was the stress producing them? Or was it when I was finally able to put my work on the back burner, let it stew, and then go do something else that my brain was finally able to get to work in the background and untie the knots in my manuscripts?

Truth is I have absolutely no idea. And the only way to test this is to write this book while respecting my well being, i.e. not letting it devour me, and see what sort of work I produce.

Which is what I’m doing.

Although it’s going really slow and I’m not exactly sure where I’m going.

*sigh*

But I guess I’ll keep walking, fix everything in the rewrites, and not let it get to me.

(right?)