IMP (Inert Mental Preparation)

Isn’t it amazing how quickly guilt sets in after finishing a book? The guilt of not immediately jumping into the next one, I mean?
I’m talking about writing books here, not reading them. There is NO GUILT involved in reading books even if you do have three going at the same time. Like I do right now– Beautiful Creatures / Garcia/Stohl, City of Ashes/Clare and The Islands of the Blessed / Farmer. Reading like a glutton cramming chocolates in her mouth (not that I would know anything about THAT) is perfectly ok. OK.
It’s weird though. I mean, I’ve spent six-12 months working like a fiend on a book, dealing with the immeasurable lows of writing–anxiety, fear, self-castigation (and sometimes flagellation), unrelenting suck-itis– and a few of those dizzying moments when it works effortlessly, and I’ve written “The End” which of course is never the actual END because there’s tons of revision ahead.
But still I have reached a completion point of sorts.
I should be able to relax. Fly to the Bahamas, drink sticky, potent cocktails with umbrellas by the beach, sleep all day, get massages, wear those fluffy robes I’ve seen in the movies.
Never happened. Probably never will.
I do have a writer acquaintance (Big big Scholastic author of mega-successful series) and she takes the whole month of December off and goes to Disneyworld. That’s her vacation. Her only vacation. The other 11 months of the year she is seriously busting her ass.
Pretty piddling, if you ask me.
I can’t ever relax because whenever I get near to the end of a book, another one is already nipping at my heels. It’s like being ridden by a hell hag, one of those toothless, wild-haired leering creatures from old myths of the British Isles. And it’s wearing spurs, and it invades my dreams. PS- those spurs really pinch.

But I am exhausted. And I fear that with a dull brain I’ll damage my story so I trick the hell hag and shove the guilt down with a couple of bricks and a burlap bag, and ignore the squeaks. Reading is work. Sleeping is work. Watching movies is work. Going for hikes is work. Spending time away from my computer is work. Blogging and tweeting and surfing and I-podding…..all WORK.

I call it INERT MENTAL PREPARATION or IMP. The title fools the hag into thinking the IMP is a cousin of some kind. It means that even if I am not ACTIVELY writing the next book, I am preparing myself to write it. I am doing lazy research. I am feeling the vibe, man. I am letting the next story seep slowly into my mind.

Do you knit? Play computer games? Lasso cows? Eat chocolate? Practice the lotus? How do you prepare?


2 thoughts on “IMP (Inert Mental Preparation)

  1. I’m with you, Jo. Lazy research. Trying to to forget all those brilliant ideas that weasled their way into my head. Lest I hose the novel I’m working on, there’s no choice but to make those voices quiet down… take a chill pill!

    Go play Rock Band (Beatles Edition, if you please) a few nights until your mind is devoid of creativity. Allow yourself to sleep the dreamless sleep you’ve heard about!

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