Writers are different. Some have a lot of looseness and need to apply discipline. Others have a lot of discipline and need to make allowances for looseness. I am definitely the latter.
I’m a worker. My danger is always that I will push too hard and not take enough breaks. I have to remind myself of things like patience; I get frustrated when it takes a long time or when it feels like I’m getting nowhere; I fight with my writing. I get angry; I hate it; I want to DEFENESTRATE it. I can’t understand why it’s so hard, or why I even bother; I can’t understand why the words don’t just come!
But that’s the thing: you can have all the discipline in the world, but that won’t make the words come. You can’t just sit down knowing, “Today I’m going to begin Chapter 12,” because maybe your eye will catch something problematic in Chapter 10, and six hours later you’ll look up and take a breath and realize you haven’t written a word of Chapter 12. Or maybe you’ll find you’re too fidgety to do any work at all. Or maybe you’ll get some bad news, or even some good news, and any hope of concentration will, um, defenestrate itself. It’s okay. You’re not in control, silly! The work will get done. Let it decide the schedule. And make yourself take breaks sometimes, because it IS hard, and it IS going to take years, and it’s not good for you or the book to continue at that pace.
FORGIVE YOURSELF. You are not in control. Let the book come how it comes. FORGIVE THE BOOK. It needs you to believe in it, even if it is slow and stumbling and doesn’t seem very good at anything!
I expect to be writing Bitterblue for all of 2009. Forthwith, here are my resolutions for the new year:
- Faith. This book is trying to come into the world, and it needs me to believe in it and in my ability to translate it. I resolve to try to hang on to my faith that this book is about something, and that I can write it the way it’s asking to be written.
- Patience. As my editor reminded me the other day, this is not a race. Bitterblue is writing slowly, but that’s okay, because there’s no other way it could be written! It is too complicated a book to be written fast. And therefore, there’s no point in always focusing on finishing. Life is about the journey, not the destination. I resolve to try to live in the moment, write in the moment, and forgive this book for being so goddamned slow. ;o)
- Perspective. I take things too seriously a lot of the time, in my writing and in my life. I resolve to try to remember that we are all tiny specks on a tiny planet in a great big universe, so WHO CARES? Go look at pelicans and laugh.
- A palm tree :o). I’m moving back up north in late spring/early summer. I’m going to miss night-time palm trees with white lights wound all around their trunks! So, I resolve to try to find a small indoor palm tree for my home that I will decorate with lights, so that I have a little piece of Florida in my life, always.
- Forgiveness. Did you notice that I resolved to try to do things, rather than to outright do them? One thing I don’t like about New Year’s resolutions is that sometimes they sound like punishments, criticisms of the things we don’t like about ourselves, or goals at which we will either succeed (yay!) or fail (BOOO!). That’s crap! Resolutions should be gentle and should be about creating peace. If I lose my faith or my patience or my perspective or, um, my palm tree (I could accidentally defenestrate it, for example), that’s okay. I’ll forgive myself. And eventually, when the time is right, I’ll get it back again. With the possible exception of the palm tree. I might have to return to the nursery for a new one of those.
That is all, and I thank you for reading.
(Do you have any gentle, peace-creating resolutions to share?)
(And can you guess what is one of my favorite words? ^_^)