For the first time in a year, I am currently not writing a novel.

It’s not that there’s not a novel waiting to be written. It’s still there. It’s living in the computer, and a whole lot of it is stacked up on the floor near the dining room table. Also, it’s buzzing in my head, waking me up in the night, tapping on the windows, whispering in my ear.

I suddenly know more about this novel than I know about my own life! Now is that the damnedest thing, or what?

Two weeks ago I could easily spend a whole day sitting in Starbucks staring at the unrelenting screen, begging my subconscious mind please give me some morsel of detail about what comes next! Tell me, damn you, what Annabelle is thinking! I would say that and then I would get up and order another cup of tea. Then I would realize that it was too hot in Starbucks to drink nuclear-temperature hot tea and so I would go and order iced tea instead. I would peruse the CDs for sale, gaze at the interesting cups and gadgets for sale, then talk to the chess players and the Scrabble players who are always there. I would scan the headlines of the newspapers. Then I would sit back down and push some commas around and glance at my watch and realize that it was time to go home and start supper.

But now I am not writing a novel. I am publicizing a novel. A week out from the release of Kissing Games of the World, I am doing interviews and arranging events, and writing little notes, sending chili peppers through the email system (see previous post), and then trying to figure out how to withdraw them. I am also praying for the improvement of the economy so that people will buy books again. 

And so now–NOW!–what does my novel-in-progress do? It dances and sings! It plays like a movie in my head. I now understand everything about Annabelle and her husband, their kids, their past history, her parents, her parents’ marriage, her mother’s illness, what Annabelle carries in her purse and how she walks and talks and even what songs she plays on her iPod.

I know the end of the book. But I don’t have time to write it yet. I have to wait.

So here’s what I’m wondering: Is this just my routine tendency to make progress on something ONLY if I am supposed to be doing something else? Do I have to create an elaborate ruse for myself in order to accomplish anything? 

Or is it true that novels bloom in darkness, not when the light of effort is beamed down upon them? Maybe they prefer to sneak around and come out when you’re busy doing something else.

Just tell me this: Has anybody else noticed this?