Stress and the Art of Novel Maintenance

First off, if you haven’t read Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, you probably should. It’s a cool book, which has nothing to do with Zen or motorcycle maintenance.  (Or, in the words of the author himself, the book “should in no way be associated with that great body of factual information relating to orthodox Zen Buddhist practice. It’s not very factual on motorcycles, either.”)

But anyhow…

Unlike Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance this post has much to do with stress and novel maintenance. Or novel writing maintenance.  Whatever.

I’ve had enough stress lately to last me for the rest of my life.

Some of it has eased, and hopefully by this time next week another part of it will have disappeared (but I’m not holding my breath). That will leave only one major stressor and that, I think, I can live with, at least for a while. (I’m trying for “through the end of the year” but we’ll see.  Of course, job hunting is its own stress factory, so…)


Life is slowly settling back into some semblance of normal. Or the new normal. Whatever.

What that means is that my writing life can also get back into some semblance of normal. (Whatever “normal” means to a writer.  I have the feeling that that definition varies wildly. I’m not even sure I can define it for myself on any given day.)

Stress is a natural part of life.  There is good stress and there is bad stress, but stress there is.  And even good stress can sap your energy after a while.

And my stresses have been… not good.

But that is changing!

(Change is also a stressor, even good change.)

With the reduction in stress comes an increase in writing and writing related things. (Like that “E” word. Or the “R” word.) (Editing and Revision. You figure out which is which.)

Come to think of it, E and R are stressors as well.

Where was I going with this?

(See what stress does? It eats holes in your brain.  Or at least in your attention span.)

I just haven’t felt much like writing lately.

I have been writing, though. Unfortunately I’ve been working on a new old story (the opening scene has been kicking around for a while and I finally decided to start it) instead of an existing novel. But hey, it’s words.  And it’s fun. And I’m curious to see where it goes.

Or working on revisions for Onyx Sun or entering changes from the first round paper edits of Book Four of The Academy of the Accord. (And, no, I still haven’t figured out what my note about the note was about.)

And I have been getting more and more little bits of ideas. (Ideas related to the above, not to new plot bunnies.)

For instance, yesterday morning I had a burst of bathtub inspiration for a bit of a fleshing out in Onyx Sun.  By the time I got to sit down and type it up, however, I’d pretty much forgotten what it was — all I could remember was that I’d had this great idea.  Fortunately I was able to piece together what I was going to do and work it into the book — mostly. I haven’t quite figured out how to work in the second part of the idea.

Oh! Or maybe I have! Ha! Off to leave myself a note on how to fix it.





Filed under writing

3 responses to “Stress and the Art of Novel Maintenance

  1. I feel like I just sat inside your mind and listened to your daily thoughts by reading this. Then again, I can’t say the thoughts in my head would be any less chaotic and bouncing to follow around. LOL

  2. Skye Hegyes

    Gonna leave yourself a note to remember the note about part two of a great bathtub idea that you don’t write down? lol

    Relax! Breathe! You got this.

  3. Story ideas are like soap bubbles. They grow into this bright, beautiful thing, which the light of one’s imagination shines through, leaving it so clear and perfect…only to pop. :( In fact, I’ve written this metaphor. I’m sorry. Hopefully, you’ll discover some liquid residue left over from your idea and you’ll be able to shape it into an entirely new form. :)

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