Gay Yellen: Block that Gift!A wonderful friend threw a fabulous launch party for me in 2014 when my first book, The Body Business, was published. And several months later, she bought me a gift I'll never forget. She said that the moment she saw it, she knew I had to have it.
I knew she meant well, so instead of recoiling in horror at the otherwise harmless paperweight, I thanked her for her thoughtfulness. But just to be safe, I hid it in a closet, far away from the room where I write.
I'd planned to launch Book #3 in 2020. But in early January, an unidentified virus brought me to my knees. It was March before I could sit at my desk to do mundane tasks like open mail and pay bills.
Then my husband's brother died. And my mother died a month later. By May, I found it impossible to concentrate on any project that called for clear thinking. Add to that the general distress we all suffered last year, and. . .
. . . Book #3—all 70,000 words of it from 2019—lay dormant. More than once in my struggles, that elegantly wrapped gift haunted me from the closet. I considered slinging it off the balcony.
By last summer's end, I managed to return to writing with a short piece for the Jungle Reds and my monthly Stiletto Gang post. Which made me wonder why, if I could put 500 words together for a blog, I still couldn't manage a few more to complete my book?
Words are words, right? So, what's the difference?
I think I've figured it out.
Writing Fast vs. Writing Deep
In my magazine days, part of my job as managing editor was to oversee the monthly deadlines of our staff writers and contributors. When it was time to lay out an issue, if a scheduled piece was M.I.A., or a writer went rogue, delaying the print run was never an option. I had to find or write a filler. Fast.
I got good at writing fast. Laser focus and a hard deadline was all it took. Similar to writing a monthly blog post. But it takes much, much more than that to write a book.
Novel writing is deep. It's immersive. It requires sustained concentration, plus the mental energy to wrangle multiple loose threads into a complete, coherent whole. Which was impossible for me to accomplish in 2020.
The Bright Side
These days, with comfort tea to bolster me, I'm back at work on Book #3. I'm glad to be going deep again, and so very grateful to have made it through. Fingers crossed for getting it done by spring.
I hope you survived last year intact, and with enough resilience to weather the ill winds that still batter us. May our beloved country be restored to health. And may you have a sweet 2021.
Gay Yellen is a former magazine and book editor. She writes the award-winning Samantha Newman Mystery Series, including The Body Business and The Body Next Door. Book #3 in the series is slated for release in 2021. Gay would love to hear from you, here, on Facebook, or at her website, GayYellen.com.