(Attention bestselling writers in anticipation: there is a lot of wait. An absolutely mindboggling pile of wait. More wait than you can possibly imagine. One becomes innured, or tries to pretend one has.)
There's that short story I'm poking at on the Donna Tartt schedule (another sentence yesterday) and I also figured out what the driving conflict of Whiskey & Water is yesterday (which is a really good trick, since I gave my editor a proposal and outline for it last month--shhh, don't tell her), and Carnival and Spindrift and Unsuitable Metal and Les Innocents are all emitting occasional bubbles, just enough to let me know they're alive under the rocks down there.
And the thing is, I realized this afternoon that I am, in fact, so functionally stupid right now that I might as well have a case of the flu. The brain is not working; there's nothing in there except a mild sinus headache and a job lot of cotton wool. All I want to do is sleep; I don't even have the focus to read a short story with the attention it deserves, or the attention span to watch an entire one-hour television show without getting up and wandering off in the middle. I'm distracted and flaky and restless and irritable and generally in the throes of not one but two cases of post-novel ennui. Well, one is post-trilogy ennui (although I have got the promise of a return to that universe floating around somewhere in my head, because Spindrift is starting to get shiny and strange back there, but I suspect that book is going to be one of those page-a-day monsters where every sentence requires a pause-and-think. It has that kind of feel to it. Also, I'd like a couple of Ph.D.'s to feel comfortable with the material, I think. Oh, the reading this will take. Thankfully, I refuse to even do more than give it a title page and an epigraph before 2006. Get thee behind me, Satan.)
Orson Scott Card occasionally talks about how writing is a self-exhaustive act. I don't buy into the tortured artist thing: this is the job I have always wanted, and I'm dead chuffed to have it, with all its precariousness and inherent weirdness and the ridiculously high effort-to-pay ratio and the odd or wonderful or complaining or just plain intoxicatingly marvelous emails from people who I've never met, but who have bought a piece of my brain for $ 6.99 US ($10.99 Canadian). It's the best job in the world. I get paid to tell stories. I mean, rock.
And as truepenny says habitually, "If it was easy, it wouldn't be fun."
But it is exhaustive. That material has to come from somewhere--experience, reading, stories from friends... it's all scraped out of my brain. I have to keep piling stuff in there for the sausage maker to work on or it just sort of rasps against itself, spinning, metal on metal, a ceaseless complaining whine.
(Which is going to mean a lot of Milton and Dante and fairy stories and another field trip through Australian mythology and maybe, got help me, Uncle Aleister for Whiskey & Water, I think. I suspect I can handle the neoPagans from personal experience. Which reminds me, I don't suppose anybody on the flist has ever engaged in scarification, branding, or body-modification-other-than-piercing and wants to chat with me about it? Drop me a comment or email, please.)
But it's going to be at least a week before I can concentrate enough to read and actually retain any of it, I suspect. And in the meantime, I am going to feel feverish and brain-scraped and achy and vaguely like I'm coming down with something. And I am going to wander around the house aimlessly picking things up and putting them down, feeling cold and stupid and sore, waiting to turn back into myself again.