Thursday, January 17, 2013

And On the Day After, the Writer Rested...for A Bit.

This piece was prompted by a question sent to me last week via Twitter. The Tweeter was responding to my announcement that I'd sent to my editor the manuscript for what will be my next novel. Basically, they were asking, "How do you celebrate something like that?"

Well, I did what I always do when I reach such a milestone: I danced the dance of the victorious, patted myself on the back, and raised a glass of my favorite beverage in salute to my accomplishment.

Then, I treated myself to a coma.

Some of you will recall that I don’t write as my sole vocation. I have a full-time job accounting for a rather sizable chunk of my waking hours. Then there are the other dwellers in my household; a wife and two young daughters who demand care and feeding, as well as time spent with favorite storybooks, playing with Legos or attending tea parties, or shepherding them to school and Taekwondo lessons. This means a lot of my writing takes place in the late evening or early morning hours—a little here, a little there, after everyone’s gone to bed or before anyone wakes up—until all the word slinging and polishing is done and I get to click that beautiful “Send” icon. Soon enough, there will be editor’s notes to address, and copyedits, and proofing galley pages, and so on and so forth. Later, there will be interviews and other marketing efforts, but for that moment? I was gonna celebrate a little.

And that included the aforementioned coma.

Writing—at least, writing on deadlines for someone else—is like any other job and as with those situations, it’s important to give yourself some time off every now and then. You know, like when you wrap up a novel manuscript or other biggie-sized, long-haul writing endeavor. As much as it is restorative for the mind and body, it’s also a reward to yourself for a job well done.

Such downtime doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, although I have to be honest here and say that a vacation to Panama City or Maui wouldn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated. I’m happy just to give myself a brief respite so that my increasingly addled brain can recharge a bit. I spend a couple of evenings putting small dents in my “To Be Read” pile, or I watch a few of those Blu rays or DVDs that have been stacking up in front of the television, each representing a movie I never got around to seeing at the theater. I hang out with the kids and we do stuff of which their mother would not approve, but let’s keep that our little secret, okay?

The breather ended up being a short one, this time around. I had an outline for another novel waiting to be finalized, along with a short story I’ve been wanting to write for a while, and I’m also involved with another writer who’s adapting one of my stories for presentation as an audio drama. The life of a working writer, even part timers like myself, never really stops, but you have to take these sorts of “mental health breaks” every so often.

What sorts of “post-writing” celebrations or rituals do you observe?

10 comments:

Julie Luek said...

You are busy-- the happy dance was well deserved. Congratulations on its completion and on having new projects already lined up.

Charles Gramlich said...

I prefer my downtime to be truly down, resting and relaxing at home, reading, playing video games, walking. Taking trips doesn't relax me, although they do feed my brain pretty well.

William Doonan said...

I drink beer in the tub, and then (after getting out of the tub), I bid on vintage 3D cameras on e-bay. It's a really bad ritual - I know.

Snowbrush said...

I wish I could write professionally because I so much love to write, but writing is very different from the business of writing. I very much like your new blog photo, by the way.

FrankandMary said...

Shoot, I just write a blog..you are too advanced for me :). I was reading Comfort Spiral & wanted to check your blog out, since as it happens, the comment you left is exactly what a friend of mine was saying about raising her son.

Your comment:The most frightening thing in my life is that I might fail to provide my son with the tools he needs to survive and thrive.

Well put, Charles.~Mary

Dayton Ward said...

@Charles - For me, "vacation" to places like Panama City or Hawaii means a lot of sitting on beaches, reading and napping while someone brings me drinks. Yes, there's sightseeing and whatnot, but I get to that...you know...later :)

Liane Spicer said...

Congrats on putting your latest to bed, Dayton.

I almost always just need to say 'ditto' to Charles' comments. I need to be down for my downtime, starting off with the aforementioned coma wherein I attempt to reset my internal clock and make up for lost sleep.

When my head clears I go to a little place on the water called Cafe del Mar and knock back a few with a friend who just happens to be my best writing buddy and first reader. (In case he's reading this, my friend doesn't drink. I handle the alcohol, he handles the tea.)

Cally Taylor said...

Like you I have a full time job and a family that need tending to when I'm not writing so I write after dropping my son off at the childminder (in the 45 mins before I start work) and during my lunch break (I'm too knackered in the evenings!). I celebrate with champagne and a couple of months off writing. I try to use the time off to recharge my creative batteries. I don't read fiction in my genre when writing so make up for it when I'm 'off'. I also watch lots of DVD boxed sets!

Dayton Ward said...

@Cally - I'm like you, in that I don't read fiction in the same genre I'm writing while I'm writing, and it's nice to catch up on some of that between projects. I don't take off quite that much time, as there's always something waiting in the wings, but I like you're thinking! I did do something similar at this point last year, which was a refreshing change, but I started getting twitchy after a bit and had to "get back to it."

Eugenia O'Neal said...

In my downtime I like to travel to new places but, failing that, a couple days at the beach reading great books followed by a film festival I throw for myself do almost as well.