There’s a stage in writing when I’m too busy writing, and thinking about the specifics of the novel, to think about the task of writing itself.
Of course I am thinking about writing. I have to be, because I’m doing it. By the time I reach the point I’m describing, I’m writing intuitively, and I feel like I’m using so many skills at once that I can’t describe what I’m doing except with bizarre hand-waving gestures and metaphors that don’t make sense to anyone but me. *wiggles finger while waving left hand and looking expectant*
So, I have about ten days left to finish the manuscript of The Duke and The Pirate Queen. The draft is essentially complete, but I’m still doing a lot of things at once. I’m adding new material and editing old material to accomodate new ideas and doing some last-minute research and line editing and worrying. (I always worry, even if there’s nothing in particular to worry about.) I’m also not-doing: not reading as much, not paying attention to my surroundings, not seeing my friends with my usual frequency.
When I get to this point in a novel, I may know what I’m doing, but I still grasp for help with every limb, and will occasionally, at weak moments, return to favorite books on writing in the hope of…I’m not sure. It’s too late in the process for most of the advice to be useful. It might be reassurance I’m seeking; the knowledge that there are other writers in the world, and they had deadlines, and they figured out their manuscript issues in the end.
That, or it’s like gorging on carbohydrates – the more you eat, the more you want.
Today, I think I’ve moved beyond the grasping stage. I have a complete draft. It’s by no means perfect, but I can see the whole shape, and thus it’s a lot easier to see what else I need to add. I’ve printed out a copy, because sometimes I can see – or maybe I really mean think about – the novel better when I can look at it in a different way than before.
Besides all that, having a complete draft is a great balm to the spirit.