Tuesday, January 11, 2011
The groove and the slump
Then, a week and a half ago, I fell into a groove of some kind and spent the better part of the week writing, in bed, more or less all day long. Even when I wasn't writing, I felt as though my head was exploding. I would bounce ideas off of Rhian, and she would volley with some more ideas, and I would go pouring them all into the manuscript (and coffee into my body) starting at five the next morning. I wasn't getting enough sleep and drinking too much in the evening in order to achieve it. It was a totally unsustainable state of being--I think the last time I experienced something like it was as long ago as 2002 or 2003, when I was writing my fourth novel. The difference this time, of course, was that I knew about, and felt intensely the inevitability of, the crash to come.
I finished the draft Saturday morning and sent it out to my usual second-draft readers. I have no idea if anything I just wrote is any good. But man, am I in a slump now. I did a month's worth of work in a week, and now I doubt I'll be able to do anything useful with the rest of the month I should have spent writing.
I wonder about these rhythms--if they're healthy to indulge, in the long run, or damaging to the kind of emotional equilibrium that a steady and productive writer needs for a fairly successful career. I'm not a big believer in "inspiration"--or, rather, I doubt that it is nearly as valuable as it is generally given credit for. Most of my best stuff, even if it was initially the product of inspiration, was only made readable through careful, calculated editing, done alone or with others' help.
At the moment, even in the depths of the slump, I can't say I really miss the intensity of last week. Rather, I miss the sober, gradual progress of the week before that. That's what I want back now.
Posted by jrlennon at 5:04 PM