The Novel Vortex

At work the other day, I left my desk to get a cup of tea. It was an ordinary cup of tea on and ordinary day. I sometimes like to sip a cup after lunch to stave off that energy slump. It was 12:56 PM EST, and I had four minutes before I had to jump on a conference call with coworkers in NY, London and South Carolina.  Plenty of time to make a quick cuppa.

Then, I entered…. {cue suspenseful music}

The Novel Vortex.

Making her lunch in the break room is another science fiction writer. There are three of us in our office, that I know of, in addition to the musicians, dancers and memoirists, the artists and photographers.

This novelist and I have spoken before, and we enjoy digging into our genre and technique together. I complimented her pretty shirt. She said hello. I proceeded to make my cup of tea.  As I poured boiling water into the paper cup and over the flimsy bag, she turned to me and said… “So how are you going about finding an editor who reads science fiction?”

I was unaware of the fact that the vortex had opened its portal in the WebMD breakroom. That in the outside world, what would pass as four minutes for me, would be forty-four to everyone else.  

She ate lunch. I drank tea. We talked shop.

In her work, she’s on the cusp of opening up her novel to beta readers for the first time.  She’s about to “open the door” to the outside world. We talked self-pub vs. trad-pub. We talked about how if you don’t pursue publication and actually market the book, then all of this novel writing amounts to so much mental masturbation.

It was a good conversation. I needed it. I needed it because I’ve got my beta feedback for Salvaged and I’ve been dragging my feet on final edits because it means that I’ve got to start queries when I’m done with that step.  I encouraged her. She encouraged me. We went back to our desks smiling, without knowing that we had been trapped in a vortex.

I missed my meeting.

My cell phone was on my desk, waiting for my return. I missed texts, calls, IMs, emails.

I chalk this up to a conflict of having what I love to do be something other than my day job. Don’t get me wrong, I like my day job. But it’s not something that fires me up and makes me passionate. It isn’t something that keeps me awake at night solving puzzles.  It’s not something I want to do when I grow up. It’s a means to an end. An enjoyable means to an end that I’m good at doing.

Writing’s not a career until I make it into one.

She went in for a cup of tea and came out with new resolve. 


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