I’ve been struggling lately. People find out I’m an author of a soon-to-be-released novel, and they gush about how neat it must be to write a book. That part is neat, although with the kind of novels I write, that my writing partner John C. Brewer writes, and that PlotForge will publish, the writing is vastly harder than any non-writer suspects. Still, that part is fun and extremely rewarding.
But lately, my time and attention have been parsed and reparsed and pulled like taffy between the business end of PlotForge, the marketing of Multiplayer, the preparations to market Foreseen, and – the most difficult part for me – increasing demands and stress from my day job. The result was a melt down. Unfortunately, it wasn’t one of those head-spinning-around, yelling, hysterical all-at-once sort of meltdowns. Rather, it left me sullen, disagreeable to everyone, and worst of all, unable to write.
It took a few days to recognize the problem, but that was even worse. Then I thrashed around for two more days, frantic at the unending demands on my time and mental energy. But today, I feel like an idiot. You see, the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. Multiplayer.
Near the beginning of Multiplayer, Hector West’s mother challenges him to figure out what the worst thing is that can happen to him. Through all the obstacles and threats he faces in the story, it isn’t until the end that the answer smacks him in the face. I won’t give any spoilers for those of you who haven’t read it yet, but at that moment, Hector saw:
“How quickly things could change when you realized what was important. And what wasn’t. Now he understood; dying wasn’t the worst thing that could happen to you. It wasn’t even close.”
I can’t answer what’s important for you, but I know what’s on my list – and those aren’t the things that have been consuming all my time. I’ve been swept up in the demanding minutiae of my life – important minutiae, but not really what matters. This doesn’t solve the problem of more demands than time, but it gives me a framework from which to make rational decisions, and ones that will give me the mental peace to keep going.
John C. Brewer and Hector are right. Dying isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you. Forgetting what’s important is.