Oh boy, oh boy. I’m in a pickle. I can’t recall, in the last few decades, ever having a dry spell in which I was not passionate about a writing project. It doesn’t feel good to be in this position. It upsets me not to be all charged up with a clear direction about which to be enthusiastic. It makes me wonder if I’m not finished with my career as the teller of stories.
I’ve spent the last three years working on four books. Three are available on Amazon, and the fourth is coming. I adored writing them and treasured, just as much, my editing experience with Shani. I truly believe I could not have gotten as far as I did without her help. Oh, lucky me!
Now, faced with the next thing to be passionate about, I am at a combination crossroads-standstill. There are three projects I might take up. The first, I’ve been thinking about really tackling since I came up with the idea forty years ago: a book on the psychology of appearances and disfigurement. However, now that it could be the next writing project to invest myself in, I am finding that I don’t have the strength or the interest for it. Disfigurement is a painful subject and, unlike my other books, not one where the difficulty can be addressed through achieving personal change. Burns or other scars earned by accident or through illness cannot not be willed away, and I do not seek to pontificate to those suffering on how to accept their lot gracefully. Sheer nonsense. Just entertaining the idea of exploring this makes me too sad.
Next in line, or so I thought, was a work on the psychology of money. In fact, this idea is quite tempting, but I’m not so sure it’s what I need right now.
The only thing left after that is a novel about a tiny detective named Simcha (the Hebrew word for happiness). Diving into a novel puts a tremendous psychological and literary weight on my shoulders. It means I’ll have to conjure up situations, interactions, events, and spiritual leaps in my characters. It necessitates that I develop deep relationships with them as I generate the words they will say. I have to be profoundly cautious, knowing them thoroughly, never to give them thoughts or dialogue inappropriate to their true nature and purpose.
Nonfiction is way easier for me to write, especially if it’s case studies or elucidating my personal philosophy as a psychologist. It’s very, very comfortable for me to take the facts and weave them into clinical tales. I love doing this, and I’m darn good at it. In my book When Sane People Do Insane Things, I created the Six Essentials, building blocks for sanity and well-being. It was, and still is, so easy to expound on these features; I’ve been living with them ever since I wrote the workshop for the university in Beijing over twenty years ago. To this day, I am ever vigilant to make sure I’m staying true to them and letting them guide me in my thoughts, feelings, and actions.
I never thought it would overwhelm me to write a novel. It didn’t with Alterations, which is coming out soon. It was a glorious project. I hope Simcha’s story will keep me in a perpetual state of delight as I create situations for her.
As I write this, I have a nasty sore throat and have to shorten the session with Shani today because inevitably, the way I write is through dictation. Right now, I’m going to sign off and ask you to send me good thoughts and blessings.