Bruce Robert Coffin here, wishing you all a happy February. I’ve been thinking a lot about Punxsutawney Phil lately. In retrospect I guess that’s not entirely accurate. Actually, I’ve been thinking about Phil’s propensity to hide out underground throughout the long winter months, much like a writer.
Writing a novel is akin to lumbering down into a dimly-lit cellar to build something only vaguely imagined. Only instead of constructing something delicate and easy to carry, writers must sort through every darkened corner of their cellar to build it. How long must they remain in the basement? Well, it takes most of them at least a year until they have something worth reading, sometimes even longer.
Then there is the reemergence of our writer. He or she ascends the stairs dragging their Frankenstein-like creation behind them. They pause at the landing to stand erect and stretch their aching spine, blinking as their eyes grow accustomed to the sunlit world around them. They smile wickedly, content in the knowledge that their labor of love will soon be unleashed—um—I mean shared with the world.
Our writer bathes, dresses in something mildly respectable, usually involving comfortable footwear, and sets out on the tour circuit. Much like Paul Revere, or Johnny Appleseed, they spread the news of their latest novel far and wide. The “getting out in front of the people” phase of the writer’s life restores them, rejuvenates them. They are happy. Once again doing what they love. Discussing their books and the writing process with like-minded individuals and fans of the genre.
But then, gradually, something within them begins to change. They experience a craving that must be sated. Our writer longs for the comfortable and familiar surroundings of their dingy basement. They miss spending time inside their own heads. Whiling away the days scheming and plotting with imaginary friends. The voices and ideas that were the genesis for their last creation call to them once again, demanding their undivided attention.
And as the touring season comes to a close, our writer grabs their trusty laptop, stocks up on coffee, dons a comfortable if somewhat shabby writing outfit, and retreats to the basement to begin work on the next monster.
Until next time, write on!