There is something seriously wrong with me. And no, it's not that I constantly digress when writing these blog posts. It's a much bigger problem: I can't enjoy my down time unless I know with certainty that it's a choice. You know what I'm talking about: it's only fun to stay home on a Saturday night curled up with your latest fabulous fantasy novel (say, Thea Harrison's two new awesome offerings or Lara Adrian's just-published Midnight Breed novel, or the new Jeaniene Frost book, for example) if and only if I know I could be doing something else, and I just don't want to. In the same way, I find that vacation is a lot more fun when my work is fulfilling and I'm making a decision to put it aside to go away somewhere and play. I like having options; life is so much more interesting when we are making affirmative choices, rather than letting life happen to us. Being reactive is no fun. It's all about being proactive, but proactivity requires a comparison between at least two alternatives. Choices create contrast. And contrast creates the sharp relief and helps us to see our lives with true perspective.
So, I'm in an in-between place right now, but instead of enjoying my break and feeling grateful for the slow, end-of-summer pace, I'm totally stressed that there will be no end to my break and my life will unfold without purpose or meaning. Really? Do they have a name for this kind of consistently-catastrophic-thinking- despite-all-evidence-to-the-contrary? Do I actually believe that this moment of down time signifies the end of all choices for all eternity? Am I really that pathetic? If I ponder long enough, I'm sure I can think of a character this relates to—some sad sack minor character who acts as a foil highlighting what not to do for the main characters who would never think or behave in such a self-defeating way. Or if they behaved this stupidly, like Pia with her first dumb-ass boyfriend in Dragon Bound, for instance, they get over themselves quickly because this is such a silly way to be.
But I can't seem to help myself, unfortunately. I'm between fantasy series, I'm between work projects, and, frankly, I'm between success and failure with respect to this blog (although you can certainly help me tip the scales toward success by reading, liking, commenting on and sharing my blog/website--pretty please?). I absolutely HATE the in-between. But, again, that is just a shortsighted attitude that discounts the long-term likelihood that nothing stays the same forever and neither will this.
It is also unrealistic to think a life of meaningful evolution is going to be a completely linear progression. Two steps forward and one step back. Or, less dramatically, two steps forward and then a bit of a break to recoup, recharge and reflect. This is a good thing, right? Yes, it is. But I'm the kind of person who believes that if I'm not moving forward then I must be moving backward. And while that may be true in theory, it is also true that while we are smack dab in the middle of everything, it can be difficult to judge our actual location on the path of life. And, in reality, slowing down does not necessarily mean sliding the transmission into reverse. Neutral is a gear in which we can move forward as well as backward--or just stay in one place for a brief time.
Often, progress can only be perceived in the rearview mirror. Sometimes, when it seems like we're going nowhere or regressing, from the perspective of hindsight we can see that we were actually moving forward by leaps and bounds. Even if it doesn't feel that way in the moment. We see this in books all the time, where an apparent set back turns out to be the set up for good things that come later. Pia and her penny are a perfect example of that. Or Elena being hired by Raphael, Sookie and the Rattrays, or Bella getting kidnapped by the Lessers. There are so many examples in fantasy, as there are in life.
So a bit of faith is probably justified that all will be well and that inspiration or at least an interesting project will arrive at my doorstep any time now. I can probably relax and enjoy this in-between time where there are few deadlines and demands. I can sink into summertime for a little while longer and let the living be easy. I can probably stop waiting for the other shoe to fall and just put the damn things on already and walk away from this counterproductive activity.