The Ebb & Flow of the Writing Life

Beauty Berry - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

The most challenging part of my life as a full-time writer is the week after a book launches out into the world. I have done everything within my power to make it the best book possible; I have pulled my hair out getting formatting details just right; I have carefully planned a few targeted promotions; I have blogged, updated Facebook and tweeted on a regular basis.

That’s all I’ve got, folks. I can’t think of anything else to do. Maelstrom is now on its own, swimming in the vast Amazon sea. Here’s hoping it can paddle its way to an island with a high hill, scramble up to the top and wave wildly to be noticed by the reading public. While I may lack objectivity, I do think those who give Maelstrom a chance will enjoy the fast-paced story.

Fall colours - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

Meanwhile, my life goes on. Fall is making its presence felt in our evergreen world. The apple, pear and Mountain Ash trees are all decked out in yellow splendour. The nights are getting colder and except for those days when the sun shines bright for an hour or two in the afternoon, we are less inclined to run around outside in T-shirts.

Late Cosmos - Guenette photoAnd yet, I can still find a garden treasure or two if I really look. The odd, brave flower brightens the barren beds. Though most plants are showing those distinct signs of decay, destined for pruning back or uprooting to a new location in the ever-growing compost pile, I’ve got a few hardy peppers still growing in a cold frame. Celery and celeriac root poke out of the ground and will soon find their way into soup to warm these chillier days. There will be a few more meals of beets – luscious, round and the deepest red.

Purple haze - Bruce Witzel photo

The fourth novel in the Crater Lake Series beckons to me from the storyboard. A growing file of notes clutter my planning file – storylines, character sketches, location descriptions and bits of dialogue. Exciting … yet something holds me back. I’m not yet ready to plunge in for that deepest of first draft dives.

St. Francis - Bruce Witzel photo  (1)

I’m like the garden going fallow for a time. I need to ponder and think, walk the trails and let my mind wander ahead of me onto paths unknown, territory uncharted. I feel the need to have story ideas turn and turn through my mind as if I sat bent over a spinning wheel with heaps of wool at my feet and the task of spinning it all into the finest yarn.

Winding Trail - Bruce Witzel photo

There is an ebb and flow to the writing life – a time to churn out words in creative frenzy and a time to rest and let the creative spirit rejuvenate. Let me honour both ends of the spectrum.

Mushrooms - Bruce Witzel photo

The Lights are on but Nobody’s Home

Gallery Masks - Shakespeare Festival - Bruce Witzel photo

A writer’s life is not for the weak-kneed or faint of heart. Well, I suppose I should speak for myself. Each writer brings his or her our own personality into the mix. For me, it is most certainly a roller-coaster ride at times.

I always wanted to be one of those people who had a regular schedule for household tasks so I didn’t get behind or one of those people who savoured a good novel a few pages at a time every night before bed. Alas, that was not meant to be. I am the marathon, clean until you drop person because everything has gotten so out of hand and company is arriving soon or the devour a book, not being able to put it down, holding it one hand while stirring a pot on the stove with the other or dropping it into the bathtub.

Thus, it is with writing. I am in a stage now, where if I could, I would write twenty-four hours a day until the entire story is out of me just to get it out of me. Sometimes my head feels so stuffed with these characters and what they are determined to do and say that I feel like I’m walking around the real world in a fog. I use to get a feeling akin to this right before a big exam when I had crammed so much in my head that the desire to spew it all out on the page was so intense I could hardly wait for the test booklet to plop on the desk in front of me.

Out of Town google imageI’ve come up with a new way to explain things to friends and family. During this intense period of writing, consider me out of town working for five day stints. Whatever you get from me in those five day periods in the way of nagged after tasks done or simple communication is a bonus and be grateful. But take heart, I can only maintain the pace for five days at a stretch and then I’ll be back – off the road, home for a few days to catch up on things and re-enter your worlds.

Now, I’m not saying this isn’t challenging. Who accepts someone is out of town when they’re sitting right there? Albeit, looking somewhat vacant and acting deaf but still . . . right there.

I’m coming down the home stretch on the completed manuscript for Chasing Down the Night – only one chapter and then the ending to go. At this stage I never know if what has spewed out in such a rush is inspiration or crap. This isn’t the time for too much analysis on that score. The story is in a rush to be told and nothing can stand in its way.

It’s a day in the writer’s life, my friends, and as someone much wiser than me used to quote – all will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well.

Biltmore Hotel, Phoenix Arizons, Bruce Witzel photo