Past present future
day lily blooms in stages
enjoying the now.
Today I got out of bed at 5:50 a.m. and did some stretching before heading out to meet friend and critique partner Laura Perdew for a hike in Centennial Cone Park. According to my Garmin, we hiked 8.59 miles. The GPS didn’t clock our discussion, but it included conversation about writing, children, spouses, writing, families of origin, wildflowers, proper pronunciation of “penstemon” (turns out we’re both correct), writing, trailrunning, and mountain bikers. Here’s a sampling of the natural glory we witnessed along the way:
So much of our current reality causes me outrage, fear, and anxiety. It’s gotten so that I struggle with getting out of bed in the morning. But today I’m grateful for a new writing project that brings me happiness.
I’m always at my best when fully immersed in a project, especially when the subject matter involves the glories of our natural world, and so this dapper lizard feels like the perfect guide for today’s work.
This afternoon our son invited us to go to the movies with him and his girlfriend. I thanked him for the invite, but said I wanted to get some writing done. Then I thought about it some more and realized it felt important to spend time with them plus have a little outing. My writing projects could wait. My decision caused a tinge of anxiety and on the drive to the theater I silently repeated that mantra to myself several times: my writing projects can wait.
I’m so glad I changed my mind. BOOKSMART made me laugh and laugh. It’s a smart, funny, and poignant film. I didn’t really know what it was about before going and in case you also live under a rock, here’s the summary:
Academic overachievers Amy and Molly thought keeping their noses to the grindstone gave them a leg up on their high school peers. But on the eve of graduation, the best friends suddenly realize that they may have missed out on the special moments of their teenage years. Determined to make up for lost time, the girls decide to cram four years of not-to-be missed fun into one night — a chaotic adventure that no amount of book smarts could prepare them for.
HA! On a much smaller scale, that was me this afternoon. Just like Amy and Molly, I thought the most important use of my time was to keep my nose to the grindstone. Wrong! Sharing smiles and laughter in a dark theater was the very best use of my time. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, what are you waiting for?
Last night I dreamt I got a card in the mail from my agent. I opened the card and read what she’d written: “We finally did it! We sold your book!”
It was such a wonderful feeling. I screamed and jumped over and over. Much higher than I’ve ever jumped in real life. I don’t know what my vertical leap was in the dream, but I’m pretty sure I could’ve dunked over LeBron.
My elation powered my legs as up, up, up I went. I floated on pure joy. I can kinda, sorta still feel it, but the sensation’s starting to fade. Wish I could’ve bottled it so I could get a whiff of that feeling when I need a boost of confidence/optimism.
That was a damned good dream.
The more specific we are, the more universal something can become.
Life is in the details. If you generalize, it doesn’t resonate.
The specificity of it is what resonates.
~ Jacqueline Woodson
As I revise a young adult novel written years ago, I’m adding specific details in hopes of creating a resonance. May my story bloom as specifically and beautifully as this iris from my garden!
Or better yet, chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate to keep me going on these edits of my work-for-hire project. As Warren Zevon noted, the shit has most definitely hit the fan.
Today I salute my friend Laura who talked me off an editorial ledge. After I sent some angry, frustrated texts, she called and listened to my rant. Then wise Laura offered some very good suggestions for moving forward and I will be implementing her ideas when I get back to work. Which won’t be until Monday.
Because right now it’s the weekend and I refuse to spend any more time and energy on this project.
If you are born an artist,
you have no choice but to fight to stay an artist.
~ Lana Del Rey
Per my experience, this feels like a true sentiment. There’s an inner urge/drive/motivation that doesn’t seem to ever go away. No matter what.
However, some days it’s harder than others to put on those boxing gloves and assume the fighting stance.
I just spent the last several hours tying up some loose threads on the YA project I’ve (most recently ) been working on since last fall. Basically, I wrote pages of notes in order to have a map for the next time I pick it up. The thing is, I cannot put any more energy into this project right now. My critique group gave me feedback last Wednesday on the first 30 pages and it’s still a hot mess. My words, not theirs. Their feedback was spot-on and they offered some great suggestions, but my heart isn’t in it anymore. This is a project I drafted ten years ago and over the following decade revised multiple times. It’s definitely a better story than it was before, but it’s still not where it needs to be.
So. I’m setting it aside because the characters and plot have become a jumble in my mind. I can’t see the forest for the trees and I’m sick of trying.
Whew. I’m feeling a mixture of emotions right now, but there’s a whole lot of relief in letting go.
And in case you’re wondering about the significance of this happy little robot, the book is about Artificial Intelligence. Not exactly in my wheelhouse.*
Okay, I’m off to celebrate with some Robot Dance moves . . .
*understatement of the year