It’s Just a Phase

I thought y’all might be getting tired of my book cover, so today I’m giving you my agent wearing a Graceling tattoo on her pregnant belly. Doesn’t it look great?!! Faye, if the baby turns out to be a Graceling, don’t blame me. And don’t name him Po. Apparently that means “butt” in German.

So, I’ve been thinking about how useless it is to wait for the day when writing starts to feel like an even keel. Seems like I’m always leaning one way or another — and there I’ll leave the sailboat imagery, because frankly, I know nothing about sailing — but what I’m trying to say is, I can’t really define the way writing usually is for me. It would be more accurate to say I go through constantly changing phases.
Like, either I’m in a period of fast and furious writing, or I’m in a period of daydreaming more than I’m writing, or I’m in a period where it helps to read novels, or I’m in a period where I can’t bear to read novels, or I’m in a period where absolutely nothing I write feels right and I’m convinced it’s all awful and I need to just stop until it feels better. It’s because life is complicated, of course; my collapsed ceiling, and the fun trip I’m planning, and a loved one’s health problems, and our horrifying presidential administration, and the best carrot cake ever, and my need to watch So You Think You Can Dance at 8pm on Wednesday will all inevitably influence my current project, the writing of Bitterblue. So will all the marketing/publicity preparations for Graceling‘s release in October. And so does the feedback I’ve started to get on Fire, which I’ll be revising again soon.
Actually, Fire is a biggie these days. I feel it looming. There are things I’m looking forward to playing around with, and I’m trying hard to think of it as play. But the truth is, there’s also this undercurrent of dread that I’m starting to realize is just the way things are with Fire. Discomfort is simply part of writing and loving that book; there’s something about being stuck in Fire’s head that is really, really hard for me. She’s harder for me to relate to than Katsa was or than Bitterblue currently is, but it’s more than that. I took on more than I realized I was taking on with her, and I know things are slipping through the cracks. Imperfections in the book, I mean. The whole thing constantly feels out of my control.
Anyway. There’s a Fire phase looming, and I welcome it, but I don’t entirely look forward to it.
Another way my writing works in phases has to do with schedules. Recently I’m in a “write from 10pm to 4am” phase, which is new for me, and strange, but I think it’s working, and might be solving some of the problems of writing during the day. From 10pm to 4am, there really are no interruptions. No one needs anything from me. And I find that if I go the whole day without writing, by 10pm I’m really itching to write — and nothing makes work easier than wanting to do it. Also, let’s face it, it’s Florida and it’s July, so from where I’m standing, there is no compelling reason to be awake and active during daylight hours. And if it starts to feel like too weird a schedule, that’s okay — I’ll just move on to the next phase.
I wonder, is what I’m describing familiar to other writers? Or maybe to anyone who is alive, and trying to balance different loves and obligations? :o) Do you live your life in phases? Mine tend to be phases that depend on moods and timing. What do yours depend on?
(By the way, continuing last week’s theme of anthropomorphized veggies, check out these awesome veggie people!)