Birthday Week has come and gone. I have a ritual each year which involves ignoring all creative endeavors for seven days and noting what I miss during that time. Last year the missing component was writing, the same as this year, but more on that later. Last year I slumped in crippling self-doubt: how could I write with all this chaos? I’ve written before but put nothing “out there”, what would be different this time?
I excused not working on the madness that is three kids on summer break, or the invaluable “I don’t know what to write” ploy. But in the madness, I found clarity. I read, a lot. Most of what I found fed my fears, perspective skewing being a talent nurtured by only the best procrastinators. Steven King’s two-thousand words per day was my biggest hump. I couldn’t imagine writing that much.
In late July of last year, however, someone reminded me of something I said to them about making music. “You don’t have to be the next Beethoven,” I’d said, “You have to be the first ‘you’.”
So it was that I set out to write. In August I wrote the first flash fiction story in what would become the Antitopia Universe: The Last Day. I submitted it to a contest and got my first rejection letter in September. That was the moment I knew I had to keep going. That rejection meant someone had read my work. They didn’t like it, but they read it!
I passed The Last Day to a friend with a taste for the dystopian to get a second set of eyes on it. One expects solid fluffing when they hand a story to friends and family. This friend is not fluffy. He pointed out good and bad with an even hand and suggested some changes that made it a better story. But he told me what I needed to hear: I want more.
Antitopia was born in that moment. Plots and plans erupted in my mind to lead the readers to Lena collapsing on a long-abandoned road to wait for the worms. It has become so much more since then and I can’t wait to share more with you.
That brings me to this year. This Birthday Week was like any other. I maintained the ritual and forewent all creative endeavors. Or did I? Most of my time I spent thinking about the Universe. I jotted notes, nothing formal, but it was there. I couldn’t put it down.
If my hands worked as fast as my brain, I would have several hundred books finished. They don’t, so I have to accept the limitations of the form. I remind myself, “This is not a sprint, it is a marathon. Pace yourself.”
I will continue my pace. Some days I will pluck five-hundred words carefully from the void. Others I will vomit thousands on the page. At the end, I will set them aside and let them age so I can view the results with fresh eyes full of cringes and guffaws. With any luck, the final product will be as fun a ride for you as it is me. Thanks for being readers, you make it worth the work.