17 February 2010
If I were to give one piece of advice to fiction writers aspiring to be published, or just now getting published, I would say, “You have to keep writing.” More than anything, I think that continuing to write consistently, in whatever routine works best for you, is the way to keep focused, and sane, and clear, and brave about your vocation and your commitment to the work.
And I’d say it’s especially important to keep writing when it’s hardest to keep writing. When life gets incredibly stressful or busy. I find that when I am in the work, everything is possible, and anxiety (about everything) subsides. Sarah Shu-Lien Bynum said in an interview with Charlie Rose a few years ago that, when you’re writing, the thing that fills your head is “how you’re going to get to the end of the sentence.” The poet Donald Hall calls this absorbedness, which he considers the root of contentment.
And so, through this time of anticipation and busy-ness before the March 2 release of Long for This World, I’m really making an effort to keep working on Sebastian and Frederick, and also a short story that is slated to be published at FiveChapters in April (the deadline is a good thing in this case). It seems so self-evident: writing is much more energizing than promoting; and yet it’s so much easier to fill your time with promoting. But promoting a book, so far, is a strange, out-of-bodyish experience at times, and can overrun you. My guess is that being overrun while on book tour is not a good thing. My goal is to keep writing even while traveling for book events (alone in a hotel room can be good for this, perhaps?); wish me luck.