Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The Lost Art of Piddling
I used to be a really talented piddler. Given a few hours of free time, I could watch TV. Devour a book front to back. Listen to music while studying the lyrics (whether or not I sang along would depend on whether anyone could hear me--I wouldn't subject that warbling to my worst enemy). I played with my dogs, who seem to enjoy my warbling, especially when I warble in some Alabama-Louisiana version of French. I worked on quilts.
This week, I realized something, and I'm not sure whether it's good or bad. I've lost the ability to piddle. And it kind of ticks me off.
The pace of the last year has been brutal. I had three full-length novels to write to contract in 2012, plus several to shepherd through edits and revisions and proofs, and four books released. From February 15-April 29 of this year, I cranked out a 90,000-word novel that comes out in June, and had another release in February. My full-time day job went nuts at the same time, going from a laid-back easy affair in November to a nail-biting, harrowing crazy space.
"Once I get back from RT," I thought, "I'll relax. The deadlines will be past me for the most part. I'll have fun. I'll piddle."
That lasted, oh, about twenty-four hours. Part of my problem is that, thanks to my no-longer-secret penchant for reality TV, I have the attention span of a gnat. And, also, I guess I got used to the breakneck pace of working eighteen-hour days.
Now, I'm driving my agent nuts with ideas. I'm tinkering with six proposals (which is piddling, in a way, since I can't possible devote much time to them all at once). I have this horrible need to dive into something huge and crazy, but I can't figure out what it is.
What do you do between projects? Do you find it difficult to stop and take a breath? If I rediscover the art of piddling, will I lose the desire to work until I drop like the only plough mule on a forty-acre farm? Will I begin to use bad Southern similes whenever I try to write if I do, indeed, sit down and watch nine episodes of "Swamp People" back to back? (Because that's how many are on my DVR at the moment--how Troy and RJ have made it through an entire gator season without me is hard to imagine.)
Or do I need therapy? How do you relax after a big deadline and recharge so you can do it all again?
Restless, bored, non-piddling minds want to know!
BIO: Novelist currently living in Auburn, Alabama. Author of the Sentinels of New Orleans series (urban fantasy, Tor Books) as Suzanne Johnson. Writing as Susannah Sandlin, author of the Penton Legacy (paranormal romance) and Collectors (romantic suspense) series from Montlake Romance. See my author website for more info!