Over the three weeks that I’ve been mostly unemployed (aside from some excellent side-work as a freelance editor for EME), I’ve managed to keep myself surprisingly busy. I spend several hours each day applying to jobs and polishing up writing samples, and of course have plenty to keep me busy working on the Los Angeles Review. I’ve also killed many hours working on craft projects of varying degrees of nerdiness: I’ve woodburned, I’ve sewed, I’ve gardened, I’ve decorated terracotta flower pots. My house is spotless every day, t-shirts are board-folded to perfection, and Mona has enjoyed two and sometimes even three trips to the park each day.
But over the past weekend, I finally ran out of things to do, and spent two consecutive days sitting on my ass, mostly just watching bad movies on TV. And two days of being lazy, as it turns out, was all I could really tolerate.
Like so many other people in our country right now, I have no idea when my next contract or full-time job will come my way. The job market might be making a slow and steady comeback, but it hasn’t reached me yet. At a time when I would ordinarily be landing excellent jobs due to my considerable experience and great employment history, there are people with P.H.D.s beating me to retail jobs. And until I do begin working full-time again, I have been given (whether I like it or not) ample amounts of free time.
While watching the recent remake of Fame (nowhere near as good as the original, btw) and eating my second bowl of ice cream on Sunday, I had a startling realization: it’s time for me to crawl back inside the writing cave and dive into my novel with absolute commitment. Though I have been making some slow progress on the novel, there is no reason for me not to dedicate all of my time to finishing it. I don’t know why this hadn’t occurred to me before now, because most writers would kill for time like this to focus 100% on a book. Whatever mental block kept me from coming to this realization has disappeared now, and in large part, I am telling you all this now so that I have no choice but to carry out this plan to completion.
I have outlined to excess, I have color-coded my lists, and I have written 75 pages of solid material for the novel. Now it’s time to finish this beast. So here I go—back into my office to lose myself in this project. I’ve given myself a final completion date of early September, so that I must go back to writing and revising for about eight hours every day in order to meet that deadline. I’ve done this before, and I know I can do it again. And in fact, I’m kind of excited—I feel ready for this challenge.
So to all my friends and family I will issue the following disclaimer: if I don’t answer your phone calls or emails, or if I do answer those calls with my novel on the brain and a subsequent inability to discuss current events or gossip, please forgive me. If I turn down plans to hang out in order to hole up in my office, please don’t take it personally. And when you do see me and are horrified to find my skin pasty white from what I call “office pallor,” do not fret. I’ll be back, but until then it’s going to be all Fitz, all the time. This character has stolen my heart and requires my constant attention, and I need to give both to her.