4:30 in the morning may not seem an optimal time to catalog the fallout from all of your bad decisions in life, but there are certain advantages:
- your cell phone doesn’t ring
- the only emails you’re getting are from automated email marketers
- it’s dark
- it’s quiet (aside from your neighbors’ one-night stands getting in their cars to leave)
- there’s nothing else to focus on, which makes the session painfully effective.
Five years ago I made a conscious decision steeped in unconscious subterfuge. I chose to grow my business and try to focus on my real work, which is writing. In a grand master act of self-delusion I convinced myself I could actually do both simultaneously.
Back in 2004 the economy finally seemed in recovery mode after the internet bust and the fallout of 9/11. There was work; there was income; an open road lay ahead personally and professionally: life was like a freeway system of opportunity. Unfortunately that freeway was built on subprime mortgages and wobbly credit portfolios which were bundled, shipped, sold and resold like bad cement. Unable to exit, I could only keep driving and wait for the thing to collapse.
Watching the stock markets from late 2008 through mid 2009 was like watching a global leeching. Contracting opportunities fizzled, fizzled, then were gone. My own income opportunities evaporated and I figured I might as well focus on the book. God knows it had been long enough. And after a few years of living well, crashing, then head-banging, it was a painful lesson to learn that you can’t give 100% to two different things simultaneously.
Back in 2004 I wrote and rewrote the opening to Chapter 3 of Hugo, knowing that it somehow had to be there, but not quite sure how I was going to make it fit. Yesterday—five years and one full draft of the novel later—I finally got the paragraph right. I know how it fits into the rest of the story. It is concise. It makes sense. I only wish that the road that got me here didn’t keep me up at night.