Almost without fail, whenever I see an acquaintance at the grocery store, a friend at a party, or a relative at a holiday gathering, I am asked the same question: “So, are you still writing?”
Now, this question comes in different forms, but whether it’s “Are you working on any books right now?” or “I heard you wrote a book or something; how’s that going?” the point is the same: So, are you still writing?
My answer: yes, and then again, no.
It has been over a year since PULL made its grand debut, and the year anniversary passed, more or less, without myself or anyone else noticing.
I remember experiencing a vague awareness that my book was a year old, and thinking I should do something special for the anniversary of the release; but then that begged the question, when was the release date, exactly?
Because those of you who were around for “release day” probably remember that my book released in various formats on various days from February 2nd – 16th. It’s very hard to celebrate properly when your book release is the slow-drip variety and none of your friends are sure when, exactly, they are supposed to congratulate you, and so they don’t, and then by the time they are sure, the moment has passed and everyone is on to the next week’s releases.
(Agent Emma, predictably, was amazing and sent me flowers on my original release day, February 2nd.)
(Because she is the actual best.)
Anyway, I suppose it was hard for me to get excited about an anniversary that didn’t have a definitive date. February 2nd and 9th and 16th of this year passed without incident, and here we are.
So. Am I still writing?
The answer is: I am fighting for the chance to be still writing.
Because I can’t give it up.
Because there are too many stories that haven’t been told yet.
Because I want to see another announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace with my name on it.
My brain constantly manufactures storylines and characters and dialogues. Every morning, during my fancy new downtown commute, I talk myself through whatever plotline currently has its claws in my mind. Literally, if you pull up next to me on the highway, you will see me asking myself questions and then talking through the answers.
This time in the car is one of the only times I have to be creative.
I don’t say that to be self-pitying; my life is an absolute dream. I have a home, a husband, and a job that I love. I have three beautiful (and ACTIVE) daughters who make me belly-laugh every single day. We have cars that work, food in our kitchen, beds to sleep in. I wouldn’t trade anything in my life for more writing time.
But my very full life leaves little room for writing. And even less room for events, which I also used to do a lot of.
I know — I still haven’t answered the question.
Yes, I am still writing. In small snatches of time, I’m working on the stories that captivate me. Some of them are children’s books. Some of them are novels. Some of them are just ideas, and that’s probably all they’ll ever be.
No, I’m not writing the way I used to — for hours on end, with few to no interruptions. Even nights like tonight, when the kids are all asleep by 6:15 (yes, you can borrow my magic wand sometime), I find myself so exhausted that my creativity shuts off and all I can do is consume other people’s creativity. I read, I watch TV, I look at Instagram posts.
But I am too tired to put a book together.
Will this ever change? Will I ever be able to finish another book? Will I ever sign another contract with a publisher?
I certainly hope so. (And yes, I do have a great idea for a YA novel that I want to start working on next month, after I’ve thought through the plot.)
I’m going to do everything I can to make writing a priority, come hell or high water or housework or full-time jobs or children. Because I’ll tell you one thing: books don’t get written without someone writing them. So if I want to write books, then I have to, you know, write books.
I think my new answer to the question, “So, are you still writing?” will be: Yes, I suppose I am, because I haven’t given up yet.
Better get back to plotting that new YA novel… see y’all next time.