What to do while you wait for your next round of edits on your new book? Well, Stephen King would say start writing your next book. Which is good advice, I think. It keeps your writing tools honed, it stops you from obsessively wondering if the draft you sent off is any good, and it sets you up for… well… publishing another book. And while I am mucking around with another novel and having great fun doing it without the pressure of a deadline, I would also like to make the case for refueling and enjoying your life when the opportunity presents itself.
As I said in my last blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about how one should spend the precious, limited time we have on this planet. I’m afraid the older you get the more you think about it because the less time you have. Although, in reality, none of us really know exactly how many days we are allotted. People die at all ages, of course. For all reasons. Unfortunately, though, it often takes too long to really come to terms with the hard fact of our mortality. But if you are lucky to live into your fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh decade, you start to feel the days becoming shorter, the weeks flying by faster, the calendar turning before you have a chance to look up.
And so, while I still love and enjoy writing, there is so much more to being present in this world than staring at a computer screen and daydreaming (however much fun—or torturous—that can be).
For me the extra time I’ve had has allowed me to do something I’ve found I love just as much as writing: Learning how to be a better cook. I have spent the last months reading massive scientific cookbooks, watching cooking shows, going to farmer’s markets, visiting cooking stores and spending lots and lots of time in the kitchen. This is nothing I get paid for (well, except with the smiles and groans of delight I sometimes receive from friends and family). It’s just something I enjoy doing simply for the doing of it. It’s peaceful, it’s creative, there is no pressure, it makes me feel present in my life.
I think if you can find those thing in your world, and allow yourself to do them (this is the tricky part, not to feel guilty about doing something you love “just because”) you will not only live a fuller, richer, happier, healthier life, but, if you are a writer, and since everything you experience informs your writing, you’ll become better at your craft as well.