I do know why this is happening, and the reason is pretty straightforward: because I've been writing. You know, I almost added just there "writing with a capital W," but that's not what this is. It's writing in lowercase. writingwritingwriting.
Writing with the Cap on is something I've done, and like mad, for the past several+ years now. But that writing has been my WorkWriting. Which, on so many fronts, is the same dang thing as writingwritingwriting while also managing to be completely different. The need to writewritewrite on my own — for my own satisfaction, life processing, and growth — is part of my makeup. WorkWriting is part of my (enjoyable) writer-editor Job. If I had to, I could pick another job type and be just fine. But I couldn't do any other job or actually be myself without writingwritingwriting — not for the long haul, anyway.
So, now, after, oh, let's say a three-and-a-half-year pregnant pause, I feel like a part of me has come back to life. I did P-L-A-N in early 2009 to force such a return to Me and my writing-for-life ways, but apparently that sort of scheme does not work, no matter how serious you are about it (and I was deadly so). Good to know.
Proof that my real writer's self is re-emerging? Right now I'm in the middle — yes, the honest-to-goodness smack-dab MIDDLE — of writing a YA historical novel that's been wanting me to write it for a very long time. It's loosely based on an 1890s family that first captured my interest in the 1990s. After writing an article about them, I filed away the research thinking I'd someday take a deeper look with a proper book-length work. Adult nonfiction, I assumed. (I wasn't yet writing for children, nor had I even considered that I might.)
In the later 90s there was a day (literally) where the possibility of my writing a chapter book on the family was real. I had a contract to write several titles of my choosing, and I considered lobbying for this subject matter. Ultimately, though, I decided to save it for later to write something-I-didn't-know-what that would feel special enough to do the idea justice. For a time in the early aughts I thought maybe a screenplay was the way to go (ha! that went nowhere). Then, in 2009, I had my a-ha moment (please don't tell Oprah I said that w/o asking), during which I realized that this baby had to be a YA novel, both for its own sake and mine.
Since figuring out what the project should be, I've started the writing a few times: Tentatively in 2009 (my nonwriting life derailed it with one swift kick); enthusiastically but misguidedly in 2010 (wrong POV, too many characters competing for main, my heart and mind still focused elsewhere); and then again this spring-into-summer of 2011, when I restarted from near scratch and promptly — and gratefully — managed to hit my stride.
Now that Fall 2011 is knocking, I have zero qualms about saying . . .
This thing is happening.
I think it couldn't happen before because (a) I wasn't ready to risk it, and (b) it actually WAS happening all along. Oh, I know. Sorry. Bear with me, if you can.
What I mean about that "b" is that this book is part of me. Its inspiration has been keeping me company for nearly 20 years. It was with me before I knew for sure what I was going to be in this life. Perhaps some part of me wanted to keep it safe until I found that out — so that I'd know for sure what it should be. Whatever else was going on, I never didn't want to write the book. So the way I see it, Somehow, something was always brewing to further the project.
This book is like every other book I've written, except that I've been writing this one every day. Every day. Every day. And no matter what happens with it when I'm done — will it sink? or possibly stink? — I know that the constant companionship it has given me makes the whole experience valuable enough that I'll feel happy with the result, whatever it is or isn't, and wherever it takes me or doesn't.
Dearest readers: Whether you read that whole post or simply skipped ahead to see if I did indeed embed the video of every writer-of-a-certain-age's favorite writing-struggles song reference, I salute you.
Please now enjoy — with my compliments — Elvis Costello and the Attractions singing "Everyday I Write the Book" from Punch the Clock.