Four months in Los Angeles pass quickly and before I know it, I wake up to the unmistakable air of fall. It’s cold in my apartment. I leave the window open for the cat but he eschews his usual place on the sill for a spot the bed, curled up by my feet. The long vertical blinds at the window are never still. There’s a perpetual breeze. I wish I brought socks into bed but can’t bring myself to leave the blankets. You’re being lazy, my best friend says, three thousand miles away. She’s making bouquets for a wedding. I go and get a pair of socks.
I’ve started to edit my second book, an undertaking that quickly escalates from I’ll just rewrite these few chapters to I’ll just rewrite this one section here to I’ll just change everything. I think I should just change everything. I write eighteen thousand words in three days and at the end of this mini burst of effort I feel suddenly drained, used up, exhausted. I go grocery shopping and allow myself a few indulgences. I buy ant traps and take strange, fleeting afternoon naps.
A book is always like this. It begins easily. You write fluidly. New ideas and fresh life pour out of your fingertips and you watch white space get eaten up by little perfect letters. You revamp plots. You play with motivations.
Then somewhere in the middle, you waver. Whatever perfect momentum you had is broken by something beyond your control. You have to go to work. You have to spend time with your boyfriend. You have to go to Petco. Whatever it is, the spell is broken.
The trick is knowing how much time to give yourself before you dive in again. How many naps to take, how many trips to Goodwill… There’s a balance and there’s a tipping point. Push as hard as you can, as far as you can. And then start writing again.