Sunday, August 23, 2009

Just Do It

On Monday of last week, I sent the manuscript for the tenth Bay Tanner mystery, Canaan’s Gate, up to my editor in New York. I came in almost two months ahead of deadline, and let me tell you the happy dance for this one lasted a long time.

During the month of July, I cranked out an amazing number of words, completing and revising the novel in a flurry of daily output that astounded even me. I pretty much adhered to Cathy Pickens’ BIC (Butt in Chair) philosophy while I made my dazzling dash to “The End.” Truth to tell, I didn’t have much choice. Yes, it flowed. Hell, it gushed, like a mountain stream in full spate, and I had to hold on for dear life as it dragged me along. What a rush!

I have no idea how or why this happened, at this time, with this book. I’d love to think I can replicate it, but who knows? We always seem to be looking for rules, for structure to define this writing life, something we can pass along to those seeking to follow in our footsteps. But maybe the truth is that it’s every woman for herself. I don’t suppose that Rembrandt and Picasso shared the same process, yet each managed to paint some pretty nice pictures. Perhaps we ought to quit trying to quantify what we do, to establish a best practices manual as I used to do in my previous life as an accountant. Maybe we just need to stand back, get out of our own way, and let it roll.

Keep in mind this could just be the I-finished-the-book-early euphoria talking. Even though I usually take at least a month off before beginning a new project, I’ve already written two chapters of the next one in the series. It may be that I’m afraid to lose the momentum. Chances are I’ll lose it anyway. It’s a capricious gift, this writing thing. It can be uplifting and shattering, glorious and depressing, inspiring and draining—all at the same time.

All you can do is go with the flow, whether it’s a raging flood or a pitiful trickle. Because if you want to be a writer, you have to write. As Nike keeps reminding us, just do it.

Kathy Wall grew up in a small town in northern Ohio. She and her husband Norman have lived on Hilton Head Island since 1994. Her 9th Bay Tanner mystery, Covenant Hall, was released in April from St. Martin’s Press.


Brianna said...

I really enjoyed reading me hope that it can flow :). Thanks for the insightful blog post.
~ A new follower

Nicole Seitz said...

Yeah, Kathy! Glad you got your groove on.
Enjoy the peace and flow,