Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stress And You...and Me...but Mostly Maureen

At the latest Drunk Writer Talk (Steph, Eileen, you were missed. We toasted you often) Maureen was talking about her stress level due to the deadlines for her books but as of the third pint she was going to try and stop living her life in a writer's panic.

And I said: "wait a second! I'm living in a writer's panic"

And then Sinead said: "more cider!"

Or something like that. But we did talk about stress and frankly, how utterly unavoidable it is.

I'm not even going to discuss the stress of waiting, of being on submission and spending every moment of your life denying the deadly siren call of booze, chocolate and your email inbox. And I'm not going to talk about the stress of rejection which can, in turn, make you fighting angry, or reduce you to a quivering mass of insecurity. I'm not going to talk about bad covers, bad reviews, low sell-through numbers or option books. Because, frankly, those are the given stresses. The kinds that come with the business of writing and we all know - business is stressful.

It's the secret stress that's killing me. The writing stress. Coming up with crap that is interesting and in some way unexpected, but also totally satisfying - stressful. Then remembering that crap when you're in the process of switching it all around. Sure, you can have notes and programs, but things are going to slip through the holes in our Swiss cheese brains. Knowing something is wrong, but not being sure how to fix it. And then realizes what will fix it requires pretty much a total rewrite - which means coming up with new crap.

And it would be one thing if we could all go to our office, work for a few hours, go to lunch, come back work a few more hours and then leave all that work behind and get back to a life. But we can't because we're writers. So, we're writing in the car on our way to holiday parties like Eileen. We're waking up at some stupid hour so we can get ten pages in like Stephanie. F***ing Sinead, has a new baby, is moving next week and she's heading to her computer every night to work on a new project. What the what???

Maureen and I are both on deadline - Maureen's is insane. She's got to write 23 hours out of 24 and the few hours she spends getting plastered with her writing buddies - are hours she should be thinking about fairy tales. Every minute I'm not at my computer right now is a minute that stresses me out, because I'm sure with just three hours in a row I could get past the hump in my rewrite. But all this life is getting in my way.

The agony of a writer's life is that when things are going well - we live in a panic. Of course, when things aren't going well - we also live in a panic.

Writer's stress - totally unavoidable.


Karen Whiddon said...

I hate it. It's the single thing I despise about my chosen career.

But what can you do? That's what alcohol (and exercise ) is for.

Maureen McGowan said...

Thanks for this Molly. And thanks you guys for Friday night. I think we all needed that.

I feel like such a whiner given how much more time I have available to write than you two, and it's so nice to hear that I'm not alone in my craziness sometimes.

Was definitely trapped in the "I suck, my ideas suck, I'm never going to pull this off" hole last week. Think I might have dug myself out today. Time will tell.

You guys rock. And Eileen and Stephanie should move to Toronto. Majority rules.

Maureen McGowan said...

And Karen... Exercise... I remember that... Hmmmm...

out of the wordwork said...

Wow, Molly - thanks for this post - it helps to know that the great hulking stress monster lives in all our houses. Good luck with your rewrite!

Hugs, Maureen! Hoping this week sees you over the hump!

And always remember - stressed spelled backwards is DESSERTS. I know - you wish it spelled booze. Maybe if we rename our stress EZOOB it won't seem so awful?

Sending you calm, zen vibes (and a free drink when you finished your deadline!)

Stephanie Doyle said...

EZOOB - I like it. Sounds way more fun than stress.

And anytime you all want me to join you in Toronto just hollaaa... what's a 9 hour drive compared to having beers and talking about writing.

Alli said...

Oh DTW, gals, EZOOB totally sucks. But the good things that come out of it are 1/ usually a kick-ass book and 2/ the knowledge we have friends who get our predicament and can be our pillars of strength when we feel we're about to collapse. Just looking for the silver lining, that's all... :-)

Sinead M said...

DWT saved my book.. many, many times. Maureen, you are definitely not alone in your craziness.
Most of our stress is self-imposed, but that doesn't make it any less significant.

Ann Lethbridge said...

Oh, guys EZOOBE! Love it. Maureen's yours is a special kind of ezoob I must say. But you will get through it, if not sane, then at least happy in your craziness.
Mine always comes with the last review before I send off the book. I can't let it go.
And then -- the revisions. Why oh why did I not see what the editor saw.
Talk about beat yourself up!
Alcohol and chocolate. It's the only cure.

Eileen said...

Stressed when I have a deadline because I might not make it. Stressed when I have no deadline because I'm not under contract. Stressed when I don't feel successful because I'm a loser. Stressed when I feel successful because everyone will discover I'm a fraud.

Thank goodness for the joy of storytelling and the strange satisfaction of writing!

L.A. Mitchell said...

I'm so sorry you're under such a tight deadline. It'll all be brilliant in the end, though :)

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