You guessed it.
A deadline is a writer's best friend.
Writers need deadlines, even self-imposed ones. If you're like me and you still manage to slip by the guards, you may need to toss in a dash of public accountability. This is where my critique group has been key to progress. I write the words down, but I seriously doubt I'd have brought two novels into the world with one in the oven if the deadline of a monthly critique group didn't force me to write.
But, for a slacker and master procrastinator like me--it's still not enough. I don't want to painfully squeeze out a chapter here and a blog entry there under duress, the sharp curve of a swinging pendulum slowly descending upon me.
After all--I like writing.
I love it. It's the very air that I breathe.
So, why do I avoid it like a teenage crush: hiding behind my locker door, slipping into class and slumping in my seat, pretending to read to avoid unintentional eye contact?
I think I'm afraid.
There, I've said it. Perhaps this is the imposter syndrome I've heard about.
Whatever I've written up until the next moment I write that is at all entertaining, enjoyable or that somehow seems to be making sense as a cohesive story is clearly a fluke.
My streak is sure to run out and I fear that the next time I sit down to write I just won't do the rest of the piece justice. Perhaps that's why revision can sometimes seem more attractive as a task because I've already figured out the full story, the characters and most details. I simply need to polish them up, perhaps shift them around--or maybe rewrite whole passages entirely.
But, this ends now. (I hope:)
With the new year standing right outside my door, I am going to rely on a writer's second best friend: a closed door to a quiet space. Eureka! Only days ago (two to be exact:) did I discover that my husband, who had been occupying the "office" space in our house for the better part of the last two years--while I took up residence in the equivalent of a busy hotel lobby in our living room--is now in the "real" office three days a week. The room that had been "his" can be adopted and adapted as "ours." What a discovery.
It only took me two full months to realize it.
So, I go into the new year with new hope that I can ignore my fears, pay more attention to deadlines and more consciously enter a room where writing happens--not laundry or phone calls or dishes or a cat being adorable.
Here's to finding some space for passion in the new year.
I gave myself twenty minutes to write this:)
It may not be perfect, but it's done.
I love the Peanuts cartoons and always have to watch Merry Christmas Charlie Brown when the holiday season rolls around. It's a wonderful, quiet nod to the real reason for the Christmas season and how community can lift us up, little things can mean a lot, and the underdogs in our lives can surprise us and save the day!
During such challenging times, fear can start making our decisions for us. That's not a good thing. The ever-present essence of fear in the air lately makes me appreciate the page from my Our Daily Bread book that I have included alongside this entry. Linus takes center stage and speaks so simply.
I hope that whatever faith you practice you are able to take strength from it, lean on something larger than any of us and shed some of the fear that we have all come to live with constantly.
I have faith that something is going to give and we will start to feel some relief from so much stress in the new year: 2022! Good times are ahead where we will be able to let go a little, enjoy the moments as they present themselves to us, and live fearlessly.
Happy New Year to you and all the family and friends in your life.
Space for Nature
You've heard me mention tea before. I drink it. And sometimes--the teabag tag has a bit of wisdom inscribed on the back. Recently I was sipping a cup of Echinacea tea with honey and felt like the universe was speaking to me through a tea tag.
The tag read, "Are not flowers the stars of the earth? - Clara Lucas Balfour" Yes!! I love flowers and earth--and stars, but what really struck me about this particular quote was how relevant it was to the current middle grade manuscript I am working on. So relevant, really, that I immediately pictured this quote situated, as you see so often, at the beginning of a book--after the dedication, but before the very first chapter--setting the tone and atmosphere through which the author wants you to walk on your way to reading the very first words of the story in your hands.
I feel that quote is the effervescence (had to look that word up:) I want spritzed all around the reader a split second before they begin digesting the very first words of my novel: Secret Lives of Leaves.
What is Secret Lives of Leaves about, you ask? Well, it's my answer to the Secret Garden, which I felt was too much about the secret and not enough about the garden. My Work-In-Progress starts out with a boy who is obsessed with outer space (planets, stars, rocket ships--the whole nine!) and there is a progression toward realizing that Earth (that planet we all live on) can be equally fascinating and ripe for discovery. A classic "don't know what you have 'til it's gone" type mentality or "it was with you all the time" or "should have looked in your own back yard"--that sort of thing.
Indeed, "Are not flowers the stars of the earth?" hits all the right notes of my middle grade novel and might even serve as a pitch except for the copyright conflict. Not knowing a lot about the author, Clara Lucas Balfour, I looked her up and found the extended version of the quote--which would never have fit on my tea bag tag--but I will end with it here:
“What a desolate place would be a world without a flower! It would be a face without a smile, a feast without a welcome. Are not flowers the stars of the earth, and are not our stars the flowers of the heaven.” – Clara Lucas Balfour