It has been slightly over a year since I started work on Death and the Mason Jar. My writing schedule hasn’t changed much. I have a great premise, fabulous characters, and a handle on all the arcs; I know the beginning, middle, and end. Yet I’m currently writing draft eleventy bajillion, and, so far, haven’t gotten to the end. The novel vehemently opposes category, defies focus, and goes down too many dark alleys where it then gets beaten up and left for the pickpockets. A whole year of wrestling with it, and only about 50K in. For me, who can typically get through a book–outline to final draft–in about nine months, it has been unsettling. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to do what I’ve always done. Get it done. Get it right. Get it published.
Until about two weeks ago.
There is no doing what I’ve always done, because this book is unlike anything I’ve ever written before. It doesn’t want a label, or a timeline. I got so bogged down in both that it was really shackling me. A couple of weeks ago, while reading Erin Morgenstern’s new (and fabulous) The Starless Sea–a book that defies category, published eight years after The Night Circus–I had a lightbulb moment. I had to let go. Of category. Of timeline. Of everything but the story. And, wouldn’t ya know, my blurry focus clarified.
If Death and the Mason Jar takes three years to write, it takes three years. Or two. Or five. I’ve had seven books published by three different publishers since 2010. It has been awesome, but I’ve never taken this leisure before. None of my favorite authors come out with a book a year, or even every two years. I don’t have to either. So there.
What happens with Death and the Mason Jar, once it’s finished, happens. Or doesn’t. I’m not going to get bogged down in that, either. I can’t. Every time I do, my brain throws a tantrum and sends my story down one of those dark alleys. In the meantime, I’m able to savor the continuing fun of The Bar Harbor Retirement Home for Famous Writers (and Their Muses). The German release happens next June. The Slovakian release is sometime after that. It’s not as if nothing’s happening. I’m more fortunate than most, in this writing thing. I just have to remind myself of that now and again. And again.