Recently, a friend asked me if I preferred to write things like A SURPLUS OF LIGHT, A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF NORMAL, and THE GRAVITY OF NOTHING or if I preferred to write things like JACOB MICHAELS IS TIRED and JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE. My answer was that I like to switch things up, moving from one genre to another (at least within the few that I write) because if I always wrote books like the former, I would be emotionally drained all of the time. The latter helps me to continue to have fun writing and indulge in things that are not so serious.
Fast-forward to a few days later, and I found myself on a phone call with my editor, tears streaming down my face. Why? Currently, I’ve been going through the arduous process of editing BETWEEN ENZO & THE UNIVERSE with the same editor I worked incredibly closely with for A SURPLUS OF LIGHT and my other “serious” works listed above. This editor has the uncanny ability of drawing work and emotions out of me that no other editor can. When we work together, nothing is off-limits, it is intense, and it is painful.
I mean all of these things in the most positive way.
Writing ENZO was a fairly quick process for the first draft. Just a few months, really. Of course, the hours spent writing during those few months were considerable, but a few months is a short time to write a novel. Of course, I’ve participated in and “won” NaNoWriMo, so I guess ENZO didn’t happen as quickly as other projects.
Regardless, we’ve recently been going through the manuscript with a fine-toothed comb, deciding what stays, what goes, what is good, what is crap, what we are happy with, what needs to be improved, and what we absolutely hate about the book. So, I am reliving the writing process and each scene bit by bit at a slower pace.
When writing a first draft of a book, the process can be so quick and intense, or so painfully slow that you are not fully immersed for long, that you do not get the full effect of what you have written. The editing process, at least for me, is like writing the book, but if the book was given steroids and then told to kick your ass. It is your feelings unmasked, your experience of the first draft being drawn like blood. You cannot hide from how you feel during the editing process.
While writing the first draft, I was unaware of how certain scenes affected me.
Issues such as racism, immigration, the experience of being LGBTQ, feeling disconnected from one’s cultural and ethnic heritage, death, religion, parental/child relationships, relationships with siblings, and the intensely nuanced nature of all of these things is difficult to ruminate on for hours on end, day after day. Even in a book like JUST A DUMB SURFER DUDE 3: SUMMER HEARTS where race, diversity, and inequity are major themes, there is at least a lot more levity and romance to break up how draining the emotions can be. Not to say that ENZO does not have levity in it–there is plenty–but the themes are much darker. Much more…real.
I know that by the time the editing process with ENZO is over, I will be an emotional wasteland. However, I feel that ENZO will be an example of some of my best work. It will not be for everyone (like any of my books) but it will be good. Of course, that is not just something I can take credit for since a lot of the credit goes to my editor.
In 8 days, all of you will be able to judge it. I am giving the first chapter away for free here on the website.
So, I think that I will be happy to move onto another project such as JACOB MICHAELS IS DEAD, A MILLION LITTLE THINGS, ONE BRICK KINGDOM, or even a M/M Romance novel I am co-authoring (ooooh, secrets!). I’m burned out on being emotional all day long. I guess that is just an occupational hazard for a writer.
Tremendous Love & Thanks,
One thought on “Genre Burnout”
Putting yourself into your work like this is a tremendous gift to us, your readers. It shows when a writer (or any other artist) does this. Thank you.
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