Ink-Stained Scribe

How to Burn a Candle

Finishing a story holds exactly
the same amount of joy as eating
a giant bowl of peach shaved ice.
On Sunday morning, I finished a short story--the first thing I've finished since completing my first draft of Bull-Rushing the Ghost earlier this year. Of course, I've worked on plenty, and the short story is barely the length of two novel chapters in Heretic, but there's something about FINISHING a whole narrative that gives me a sense of accomplishment and slingshots me through the next few days.

This time was better than most, though. First, it was a story I'd been asked to write, so I was a but apprehensive about writing toward specifications. It turned out well enough, though. Second, it's the first thing I've completed since my Wiley Coyote-esque plunge over the cliff of creative overexertion.

About that cliff. Regular readers might have noticed I've neglected the blog over the past weeks. 20 days into NaNoWriMo, I waved the white flag. I could barely force myself to pick up pen or keyboard, and my utter exhaustion forced me to admit a fact I'd been trying to hide from myself: all year I've been burning the candle at both ends, trying desperately to balance a mentally-draining job with personal commitments, health issues, and the, frankly, alarming number of creative pursuits.

I write throughout the year, so while giving up on NaNo was a blow to my pride, it didn't hurt my page-count much. But I won NaNo the previous two years--in '10 because I was unemployed and had nothing better to do, in '11 because I guess I just had more energy. This year's defeat indicated larger problems.

I didn't realize how much I needed a break until I NaNo-Failed-To-WriMo.

So I took some time off. Three weeks, in fact. During that time I didn't try to write. Rather than trying to bend my protesting brain to the page, I cleaned, watched Netflix, slept, and read like a madwoman.

I'd forgotten how much I like reading. There was a reason I started this whole writing thing.

For anyone who's lit up both ends of the creative firecracker, I recommend bingeing on books.  I read serious books and "crunchy" books, YA and literary criticism, traditional and self-published, ebooks, audiobooks, paper, and hardback. I reread the Last Herald Mage trilogy. I finally read the latest Scott Lynch. I returned to Riverside. I even read an LGBT firefighter romance novel, which made me smile despite the "read that in a fanfic once" porn-industry sub-plot (yes, really). The binge reminded me how much I love falling into other worlds and stories, falling in love with characters like Atticus O'Sullivan, Wellington Books Esq., Deryn Sharp, Bard Stefan, Locke Lamora, and the Mad Duke Tremontaine.

Speaking of Wellington Books Esq...

I've finished the short story for +Tee Morris  and +Philippa Ballantine's The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences: Tales from the Archives, and it's currently out with a handful of alpha readers. I should be right on time with the first draft.

Finishing a story after what had felt like a creative drought left me feeling like I was soaring in a chariot pulled by a team of Nyan-cats, because it was a great reminder of what I could do when I wasn't stretching myself too thin.

So, I have two writing-related resolutions for 2013:

1. Read at least one book a week, no matter what kind.
2. Learn how to burn a candle: one end at a time, because there will still be enough light to see by.

What gives you a creative high? Have you burned the candle at both ends? What do you do to relax when you've overtapped your creative well? What are your creative New Years Resolutions?