Thursday, December 29, 2011

HEAVENLY HELL- Where All Serious Writers Go

Pearly Gates after Daily Polishing
Welcome to the New Year. Well, for you, maybe. I’m writing this several days before New Years’ Eve, knowing I'll have returned from a trip north to see family just in time to miss all the celebration. While the rest of you are out there whooping it up, I’ll be at home pounding the keyboard. But if you think I’m whining, you’re mistaken.

You can tell this is a serious writer
by his pride in the three words he got
onto the paper. Can't see them?
 Oh, he must have used White-Out.
I think the last time we ventured out on the wild year end spree was 1989 when we got as far as Plaid Pantry before the drunk drivers scared us off the road. Following the national tradition doesn’t appeal to me. It would mean actually dressing up and going out, and then eating too much and drinking things I don’t even want to remember in the morning. Not that I don’t like to dress up. I do it at least twice a year, and actually, I clean up pretty good. But there’s just nothing like hanging around the house in my faded muu muu, fuzzy comfy sox and new Christmas robe that so far doesn’t even have a bacon fat dribble on it while the guys are safely downstairs in front of the TV. I'll have a glass of wine, maybe, and some shrimp cocktail that still has frost lingering on the tails. I’m perfectly capable of getting fat without leaving the house.

The truth is, I’d just as soon stay home and write, curled up in said faded muu muu on my bed with my laptop, as do anything else in the world. I will spend the day working on the ending of my January release, BELOVED STRANGER, briefly hobbling on stiff legs down the stairs for supper, then return to my awkward Yoga-like position on my bed to work some more on it.  No doubt I'll find a rough spot on the last scene, but I'll simply do what always works: a whirlpool bath. Sure enough, in five minutes I'll have all the missing parts outlined in my little notepad, and I'll lean back to enjoy the soothing flow of the bubbly water. For maybe a minute.  I'll spend the last 25 minutes before the timer shuts off planning my next story. (No, I'm not providing any pictures of me in any of the above circumstances. Don't ask.)

Demon Deadline's Workplace
I know what you’re thinking. Couldn’t I just enjoy the whirlpool bath without turning it into some sort of workaholic marathon? Are you kidding? What kind of fun would that be? I’m a writer. I write.  People who don’t write, don’t.  And they don’t understand those who do.
Ever hear about the writer who died and walked up to the Pearly Gates, only to discover the Gates were temporarily closed for their daily polishing? While he waited around for things to open up, St. Peter offered the author a tour of Hell because, he said, authors get to choose whether they go to Heaven or Hell. 
Demon Deadline in action.
Down in Hell, all the writers were squatting before desks made from rocks, pounding on ancient typewriters, while behind them some joker whose name was Demon Deadline (I kid you not) cracked a whip and yelled, “Write, you fools! Write!” 
As soon as the gates were polished, St. Pete and the author returned to Heaven, and St Peter showed the author around the Heavenly Authors’ Chamber, located on a remote cloud, perched precariously at the very edge of Heaven. All the writers were sitting before rock desks pounding on ancient typewriters. And darned if that guy Deadline wasn’t right behind them, cracking his whip and yelling, “Write, you fools!  Write!” 
“I don’t get it,” said the author. “What’s the difference?” 
St. Peter beamed proudly and said, “Our Heavenly Authors get to be published in the Heavenly Times.”
Real authors understand that.  Of course any author who had a choice would clearly choose Heaven over Hell, but lacking that choice, he’d choose Hell over an ordinary life without writing. Writers know all about Hell anyway. Hell is a When as well as a Where. It'’s when you spent the entire night working out a fabulous scene in your mind until you know every single detail. Then you sit down at your computer the next day and discover you do indeed have every little detail in your mind. Everything, that is, except the words to describe it.
Jimmy and my favorite heroine

And Hell is when someone drags you off to a party to loosen up and have fun for a change, just when you’re champing at the bit to write that delicious love scene. (And yes, that’s champing at the bit, not chomping. All  Regency authors know horses do not chomp their bits because Regency authors love their research even as much as they do writing.)

Heaven is when your hero is Johnny Depp, Gerard Butler and Jimmy Thomas combined in just the right proportions, and you have no trouble at all picturing him or telling anyone all about him. Hell is when you’re a hundred pages into the book and still can’t get a mental picture of Hero, even though he ought to be the sexiest, most kissable guy you’ve ever written.

This ordinary world is very neatly divided into two kinds of people: Those who write, and those who know all writers are crazy. The second group would find no pleasure in running around all day in comfy sox and muu muus (or pajamas or sweats), but tying one on at a New Year’s party is something they find worthy of a year-long wait. They consider computers to be work tools and whirlpool baths a source for luxurious “aaaahhhhs”. Writers, on the other hand, derive incredible pleasure (or pain) from their computers. But whirlpool tubs, being the source of some of their greatest ideas, are clearly work tools.

So those of you who are not writers will not understand my New Years’ Eve wish. It is only for authors, who will have no trouble understanding. Here it is, my special wish for you, for now and all the years to come:

And for the rest of you, who we love so much:
Buy our books! Live a Happily Ever After!

Love and hugs to all!


  1. Yes, here we all sit, pounding our keyboards. I can come up with the words and details; sometimes the scene is lacking. But the guy with the whip, he's *always* there.

  2. Dear Delle,
    May You Write Forever.

  3. Great post, Delle! And, like you, I'd much, much rather stay at home and write than dress up and go out.

  4. Delle, as always you you told a wonderful story and it is so true of us authors! But not being a night owl, rather than sit up late writing I go to bed and get up early and write. So I prefer not doing the New Year's Eve parties so I can get up early and get to work. But I do love the bathtub for working out scenes. ;)

  5. I LOVE this Delle! It's so spot on! Thank you so much for your stories and the encouragement that you share! Have a safe and Happy New Year!

  6. Laugh out loud funny, Delle. May you have the writer's version of a Happy New Year!!!

  7. What can I say except that you have said it all. And I wish the same for you, Delle,
    Happy, healthy and productive new year to you and yours, Linda

  8. It's so very true! I can't not write, but it's so frustrating when I want to be home with my laptop and people think I need to be social! Also frustrating is when characters get mad at me because I'm not writing fast enough for them, but they're not giving me anything to work with! XD

  9. Kudos Delle. I cannot remember the last New Year's Eve I celebrated like most do; going out, drinking, partying. For as long as I can remember (mid-late 90's maybe), I've been driven to succeed, which means work work work, although I'm not a workaholic, I'm just driven to do what I'm passionate about, no matter what it is, and partying is not it.

    So many think I need to relax more, but for me, someone with self-diagnosed ADHD (the more coffee I drink, the more I fall asleep), I can't sit still and relax, it bothers me, I need chaos, pressure, deadlines, goals reached... Then I'm feeling good, fullfilled, accomplished, satisfied.

    Everyone will see what I mean come mid-January when I announce the biggest thing the romance novel industry has seen. Something incredible that will revolutionize the romance novel industry, especially for indie-authors, but for everyone :)

    And yes, I understand you from a writer's view as well, as I also write :)

    Happy New Year! 2012 is going to be AMAZING!!! :)

  10. Thanks to all of you who commented and kept the discussion going while I was gone. We came home last night to a sick son and two worried kitties and a few other things.

    It's good to hear so many other writers go through the same things! I hear from non-writers sometimes who have the notion that truly creative writing just flows from a never ending font. I thin it usually doesn't. When writing comes too easily, I wonder if I am being creative or if I'm just turning words loose to ravage the page.

    And Jimmy, I'll agree, it's not being a workaholic. People who are passionate about their work might be called compulsive, I suppose. But to love what we are doing so much that it compels us surely must be one of the greatest blessings life can give.

    But coffee sure won't put me to sleep! For me, it's a toss-up on which can keep me awake longer, a cup of coffee after noon or a head full of ideas that won't be still!


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I write write write. Sometimes I travel. Then I write some more. And I have a great family who understand that I write write write.