Having the life of a professional, full-time writer is my
dream long-term goal destined vocation. I’m one of many with said inclination, I know. But, what is “full-time” and how much time is optimal for producing good work? I know there are some writers who claim to write for truly six to eight hours a day, but I think anyone that can maintain such a schedule, for more than a couple of weeks, harbors a specific type of mania. I had one of those six hour days yesterday.
It’s euphoric, and depressing, to come to the end of a large project. Yesterday I finished a novel, a novel I’ve been working on, in sometimes misguided directions, for years. Since 2003. So, that makes five years. Of course, this isn’t the first time I finished it. I finished it, as a collection of fifteen short stories, back in, oh I don’t even know. I reworked that material and tried to pass it off as a novel for a workshop in 2006. Then I decided, at the end of 2006, that the entire thing needed a different chronological structure and a new point of view. Profluence. So.
Over the last week or so I was nearing the end of this year-long rewrite; yesterday I rewrote two, glaringly wrong, chapters and did a huge chunk of superficial editing. I can’t believe some of the stuff I wrote in the past. Things like “The girls collapsed
to the floor.” Duh. For the most part, editing consisted of crossing out phrases. Dumb phrases.
Working though a novel-length manuscript led me to to feel alternatively masterful and idiotic. There is a type of mania that sets in when really nearing the end of something, whether it be a large work or even a short story. (Maybe it’s just the caffeine.) But then, when it’s over, I’m completely drained. It’s a crash, intellectually and physically.
Having years of work wrapped up into one tiny ball of art is also a tenuous reality to carry around. Now what? I don’t know. I felt productive in one sense yesterday, but my accomplishment wasn’t concrete enough. That same day I polished four short stories and sent them off. Submitting stories was a concrete action to take. What of the novel? It’s a computer file. Who knows if it’s any good. Sometimes I know. But you can’t know always about those things, or else what fuels the bursts of mania to make everything more and again and again?