Pressure and Thanks

I’m using one of my Swedish covers today in honor of Graceling being a best seller in Sweden :o). Thank you to my publisher Semic for making this happen! —>

Today, outside my window, a woman’s voice said, “Holy shit! What is that thing?”

I leaned toward the window and yelled, “It’s a turkey!”

Yes, both the neighborhood turkey and noisy conversations about the neighborhood turkey have become so common in these parts that I didn’t even need to look out the window to know what she was talking about. I’m really becoming fond of this guy. My favorite is when he’s perched on a fence or a low tree branch, as if he were a mere sparrow. (He’s a really big wild turkey.) I wonder if he’s tired of astonished reactions yet. I try to act very blasé whenever I see him, to give him a relief from all the pressure to be astonishing.

Speaking of pressure…

Pressure is a funny thing. When I’m not working, sometimes I feel the pressure of work, of timing, of deadlines and schedules, pressing down on me. But when I am working, it goes away. I’ve noticed that while pressure can have less-than-wonderful effects on my appetite, dreams, and ability to rest (for example), it doesn’t have any effect on my work. It doesn’t make me work faster or slower or for fewer or more hours in the day; it doesn’t make my work better or worse. The outside pressure needs to go away in order for me to clear my head for writing, and I’m not sure why it goes away without too much trouble, but it does. In this way, the pressure is nothing. It can’t touch me where it hurts.

I think that if this ever changes — if the outside pressure starts to affect my work — that will be the day I take a break from writing for the outside world. Luckily, there are a few things a writer can do to limit the outside pressure — or at least, to limit how much of it actually makes its way through the barriers to touch her. I try to do these things. And of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank my editor and my agent at this point. Both of them are blessedly patient with me, both of them understand my process, both of them know I don’t dawdle, and both of them have made themselves into walls for my sake, holding back the pressure, dealing with it themselves rather than passing it on to me, and hiding it so that I can’t see it.

Just one of the ways in which I’m a lucky, lucky writer.

Back to work.