Steven King says that after you finish your first draft, you have to chuck it in a drawer for at least six weeks. Then when you go to edit, you will have achieved proper distance from the manuscript, making it easier to gut what needs gutted.
He also says that during this six week period, you must forget the manuscript exists, and that this can be accomplished by switching to a different project, distracting yourself with other things.
Maybe when you’re Steven King and you’ve written approximately six hundred novels, you can just switch tracks, but after your first novel?
Literally all the varieties of bullshit in all the land.
Here is what actually happened when I tried to do that:
First, I came down off my elation so hard that I started running a fever. I had plugged up sinuses, chills, aches. I was nowhere near possessing the level of energy required to undertake a vast new project.
And so I lazed around, sleeping my illness away, and thought about energists. Because, hey, I feel happy when I think about energists.
After I started to feel better, I threw myself back into my dissertation theory, as was the original plan, and I was thrilled to find that it refreshed me. My energy went through the roof, I reconceptualized my major concerns to suit the research I did last August, and I took up a fresh blue pen and wrote down all my remaining questions about format, focus, and accessibility so that I could clear my head of them.
Then I picked up a pencil and scribbled all over the page, because I have the same sorts of questions for my novel, and there were blank margins to fill.
Following that purge, I spun my wheels for a while, thinking about the proper re-entry point for the dissertation. When nothing came immediately to mind, I turned instead to my tutoring work, garnering two new students for the ACT and one for history and writing.
Which was great. I love teaching. My favorite energists are teachers.
And, knowing that I should continue to foster balance between academics and creative work, I requested two new novels from the library and absorbed them over morning tea–Juliet Marillier’s Dreamer’s Pool and Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season. They were both lovely, immersive, thick, detailed, and totally inspiring…
So, I had to jot down some notes on my own system of magic and my own world, because that’s what good writers do. Duh.
I’ve also been for a walk every day. I’ve explored the forest. I’ve cooked, cleaned, worked out, meditated, loosely scheduled my next two months, and sent any number of emails.
All while thinking about energists.
Or, more realistically, while trying not to think about energists, and then thinking about them because I was trying not to.
I’m a lost cause. And more importantly, if the energists are this active in my life, then they must be there for a reason.
The new plan, then, is to stop pushing them away. I should have known that trying to do so would just incentivize them to speak, and that I would be unable to resist their voices.
But since I do have other work to get done, my February goal is as follows:
Each day I must do one task that I am tempted to put off in favor of imagination-land. I have to outline a dissertation chapter or compile tax forms or research the gritty, monetized, scary side of writing. I also have to continue to get outside every day and to read every morning.
And if, in the cracks of this plan, there happens to be time to say…construct colored-coded charts splitting the elements into their three divisions with five stages each of construction/destruction, or draw a portrait of Matthew now that I understand him better, or write a post about how Magic is totally an STS, network being, so be it.
After all, it was probably folly to think that I could immediately hop from Atlantians to asylums.
Or that I would want to.