Not true really. First impressions are seldom lasting ones and bad habits can always be amended.
But still, starting a new story is always tough. A couple of weeks ago I finished my novel, Stealing Home. It was not only the end of a novel; it was the final book in a trilogy. I’ve got lots of ideas for more books and even had a deadline to finish a story for an anthology. But it was a beautiful spring. There were walks to be taken, gardens to plant, wine to drink.
Plus, my last book was nominated for an Aurora Award. Wait until that’s over, I thought, think how motivated you’ll be if you win. Right. And if you lose, no worries; all the other nominees are good friends. And you’ve lost things before – more often than you’ve won. Sure.
The weekend at KeyCon was great. The nominees, calling themselves the Magnificent Basterds, held a joint party on Friday night that was a roaring success. Programming was fun as usual and I had lots of positive feedback – people saying they loved my book and had voted for it. Still, I tried to contain my optimism. Then, Dan O’Driscoll won for Artistic Accomplishment for my novel’s cover! Maybe, just maybe...
But no. Robert J. Sawyer won for his excellent novel, Wake. A deserving win (and besides Rob had already suffered a bigger disappointment – the cancellation of Flash Forward, the ABC TV series based on his novel). I think I was gracious, smiled, hugged, said all the right things. And I meant them too.
But I have to say, I shed a tear or two when I got back to my room.
And the next day, I had pretty much decided to give up writing. I’d just see my third book launched and then take it easy for the summer – reading, gardening, travelling, drinking wine in my backyard. The next day, I started planning a search for a new job – one that would pay a lot more and fill up those empty hours I normally spent writing. That was the new me – a workaholic bureaucrat working 60 hours a week for the big bucks!
Then I thought about it. I still had that anthology deadline. So Saturday, having spent a couple of days working out the plot, I sat down to write. God, it was painful. The first hundred words took over an hour and by the end of the day, I only had a thousand words.
No, that was it. No way. I lost the drive, the zest, the skill. I really was finished as a writer.
Sunday morning I avoided my office like the plague – quite literally since I’d come down with either the flu or a severe allergy attack. There was no way... unless, maybe if I approached it this way. By deadline day – Tuesday – despite frequent unpleasant interruptions, I had a five thousand short story. Is it brilliant? That’s not for me to judge – but it was certainly good enough to let the editors of the anthology make that decision for themselves.
So I guess I’m back in the saddle. Oh, I still intend to enjoy my summer (we’re off to Europe in 18 days for a three week holiday) but I’m not looking for a new killer job. And I’m not giving up writing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll win an Aurora next year.