Fear and Breaks
by MW Cook
I was thinking about taking a break from my book.
This is my third novel. The first one was practice. The second one was supposed to be a stand-alone fantasy. Then it got away from me. It crept toward 200k words and, as I was ending it, I realized it wasn’t ending. My book had turned itself into a series without my permission.
That scared me. I didn’t think I was ready to write a series. To go from practice to epic fantasy series in one book … terrifying. And the fear weighed on me. Hard. I felt like I needed to take a break. Needed to take some time out for, I dunno, training or something. I felt like I needed to stop writing the book and maybe do some blogging or write some poems. Or maybe throw together that cute sci-fi novella I have been thinking about. Or, since NaNoWriMo is nearly here, write up a crappy novel just so I could say I did it.
I was about to do it. I had basically decided on my way to work last night. I was going to walk away. Part of me silently wondered if I’d ever return.
Then I started asking myself what I still needed to do with this novel I’m working on. It’s already pretty big. More than 100k so far. What still needs doing?
I drew up a list.
There were four items on the list.
That couldn’t be right, I thought. It’s huge. It’s insurmountable. It’s terrifying. How could there only be four things left to do? Why do I feel so overwhelmed?
Maybe, just maybe, because fear is a dirty liar.
Maybe because fear whispers insidious words into the secret places of my mind. And those secret places spread the news: You cannot do this! And that news flows through my consciousness, taking away confidence. And they travel through my body, sucking out energy. And the words grasp at my heart, making me question my identity, my abilities.
I’m not going to take a break. I’ve taken them before and I know what kind of damage they cause. Just like you never really hate your job until you return from vacation.
I’m a writer. It doesn’t matter that I’ve only written two books. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never made a cent from my words. I’m a writer because I write. I’m a writer because I choose to be one. And I have no need for breaks.
You know why they call them breaks?
They break things.