Dedication to the cause or just one more load of laundry

One of the funny things about being a writer is that we are all human (so far).  We have normal lives with needs and wants.  Someone has to do the laundry, someone has to pay the bills, buy the groceries, wash the dishes, mow the lawn.

If you’re very lucky, you have a partner who will help out , pick up some of the load.  Sometimes you let the dishes soak in a nice hot sink full of water and promise to get back to them in a day or three.

See, if you are a writer — and I mean that dedicated individual who gets your words in religiously — then you have a handle on all this.  You juggle your life with panache.

If you’re like me, however, you run hot and cold.  I can be so face down in a project that I can’t hear a smoke detector going off (been there).  I’ve had week after week of 2.5k word days, 15k – 20K weeks where I wrote like my hair was on fire.  I was singing and the words were flowing like magic.

Then there are other times where no matter how much time I set aside to write I always manage to fritter it away.  One more load of laundry is a common refrain in my old writing group.  It’s short-hand for a time wasting activity which seems to have redeeming value.  Of course the world wants me wearing clean clothes.  It would be silly to think otherwise.  But that’s a trap.  It’s a trick the mind plays when you are blocked.  Sure you can do laundry, but throw in a load and write.  Don’t bother to fold anything, dig around in the laundry basket for three days if you need to, but put words down as if you were a dedicated professional who had deadlines and a plan.

I gravitate to lots of extra-curricular activities including little mindless games off the internet (Plants vs. Zombies),  reading (which aligns with laundry, trust me), or just reading Facebook for a few hours so I feel like I’m keeping up with my friends, peers and fans.

I can squander an entire evening I’ve set aside to write with the greatest of ease.

And it takes me weeks to notice it when I’m in a funk.

Like almost everyone I’ve ever met, my mood cycles through highs and lows.  When my biorhythms are low (or you know, just marginally depressed) I don’t write.  It doesn’t make sense logically and it doesn’t fit my work schedule, my world view or my deep desire to be a professional writer.  Professionals do the hard work.  They juggle faster.  I have this issue so totally under control on my day job that it’s second nature.  I can be in the worst funk, barely able to look another person in the eye, but I can deliver what I need to deliver for the day job.

So, why do I let my writing lapse when I’m in a funk?

Self-preservation is a key factor.  No day job, no food, no mortgage.    No writing, especially when I’m not under a deadline, just means a delay in the dream of going full-time, the dream of multiple series running concurrently, the dream of fame and fortune.

See, fame and fortune are a pipe-dream.  Those who succeed at that level are a rare breed.  But it’s good to have a goal.  Good to dream big.  If I don’t meet my goal, I’m only disappointing myself, and when I’m depressed, I’m already not my best friend.  Luckily my depression tends to be light.  I don’t totally shut down like some people I know.  I feel really lucky for that.  But it’s enough to knock me off my game, sometimes for weeks.

This blog post is the wake-up call for this round of malaise.  I’m seeing the forest and the trees again, and I’m starting to realize just how damn near useless I’ve been.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve been doing interviews and book signings, PR work and planning.  Everything related to writing except actually creating new story.

I’ve committed to finish reading a short story collection (which is totally rocking) and a novel (which so far is also excellent) before I can get back to my own work.

I get in my own way.  I over commit and I do not do justice to the career I so desperately want to foster.

So it’s time to wear a ratty t-shirt and the kilt in leiue of jeans and a button down.  Time to set aside the frantic distractions and get down to brass tacks.

I have two book signings this week and a Science Fiction Writers of America reading to co-host, but after that, and some sleep, root canal and maybe paying the bills — I’ll get back to the novel.

Any second now.

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  • Man, does this post make sense to me. I could just sign my name to it and it would be true. LOL It describes the last couple years for me…only I wasn’t working outside the house wither, so I was basically in a funk the whole time. I do find working outside the home helps give me a bit of a mental kick in the butt, and doubt I’ll ever go back to ONLY full-time writing again. I just don’t think it’s for me.

    Thanks for sharing, John.

  • I’m cheering for you, John. Let the laundry get good and ripe!!

  • If it means anything to you, you at least are pursuing your dream even if part time. How many people tell themselves they are going to accomplish anything only to be sitting around in old age reminiscing about what they should have done or wanted to do earlier in life. Hang in there bud you are doing awesome. I believe they call it patience and perseverence. (Pardon my bad spelling/typing–I am not an author)

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The wild ox; strength and power.


Creativity; words, music, and art.


The troll cross; wealth and prosperity.


The sun; energy, honor, guidance.


Personally earned or lucky wealth and prosperity.


The harvest; patience and promise.


The chariot; journey and travel.

Note: This is not the real book cover.