I’m tidying up the first draft of the middle grade I wrote in a modified NaNoWriMo last November and December. I’m trying something new by asking my critique group to read it for our February meeting. I’m not used to showing my work at such an early stage, but my group excels at identifying plot holes, character inconsistencies, etc., so my thinking is that if I take advantage of their insights earlier in the process, I’ll avoid a lot of unnecessary revision.
This requires me putting on my big girl pants and trying not to let the terror take over.
Photo by Leon Macapagal from Pexels
I’m trying to focus on little bits at a time. Sometimes that means a chapter, or plot point, or character arc, or just a page. A sentence. Whatever it takes to keep me going. The anxiety is real, though. I have only a few more days to smooth out the roughest edges and then hit SEND.
Step by step, I’ll get it done.
I just finished reading a young adult (YA) novel that was recommended as a good example of multiple point-of-view (POV) characters. The book recommendation came weeks ago as I debated whether I wanted to write my new project in multiple POVs rather than my usual first-person, but I just got around to reading it. It’s a very good book and I’m glad I read.
Except. One of the POV characters in the book has a home situation and coping strategy that very closely mirrors how I’m writing one of my characters. AND, there are some general similarities to the plots.
Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels
Panic! Doubt! OMG, should I stop reading this? Do I need to rework my character? Rethink my plot? Drop the project altogether and buy a sailboat or take up harmonica lessons?
Well. As mentioned, I did finish the book. And the panic has (mostly) subsided because the draft I’m working on isn’t a YA but a middle-grade (MG) which means it’s for different readers. Plus, the book I read was published in 2012. So, I’m putting on my big girl pants and resuming my project.
I will admit, however, it was very unsettling to come across a reflection of something I thought existed only in my mind.
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.
Yarrow’s Spiny Lizard. Greenhouse Trail, Cave Creek Canyon. May 14, 2019
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?
As the nervousness and anxiety mounts regarding the outcome of tomorrow’s votes, I turn to my default emotional-health tool: nature.
This deer showed up in our front yard just over a year ago and today I’m grateful for its grace, beauty, and calming demeanor.
Breathe, Tracy. Breathe . . .
Don’t let yesterday use up too much of today.
~ Will Rogers
Sometimes taking the most simple action can quell my anxiety. Yesterday as I worked on this revision and felt overwhelmed by the many, many details of my madcap story that must be explained by the end of the manuscript, I started a list.
LOOSE ENDS / EXPLANATIONS NEEDED
Whoa. Behold this literary rocket scientist at work!
I’m trying hard to stop kicking myself for not creating the list at the outset of this round of revisions and, instead, be grateful for my peace of mind in the here and now.
That bears repeating: today, I got good news.
Last week, I went to Planned Parenthood because of a health concern. While there, I had a breast exam that revealed a mass in my right breast. I was referred to an imaging place for my first ever mammogram (along with sonogram and possible biopsy). I was also given a list of surgeons. Cue the anxiety.
Today I went to Invision Sally Jobe where I was treated with much kindness AND learned that there are no concerns regarding my breast tissue! The technician who did the sonogram told me as much when she went off to share her results with the doctor who had already seen the mammogram results. The sonogram tech left me alone in a room with this framed photo:
For the next ten minutes, I gazed at these fascinating women as I waited for final confirmation that all was clear on my breast-ern front.* I spent the time trying to decide which cowgirl I most resemble (in attitude, looks, fashion sense). I liked the attitude of the first woman on the left with her hands on her hips, but had to acknowledge that I probably wouldn’t do that in a group photo. I decided that while the woman third from the left is wearing lipstick (which I also love to wear), she’s a little too put-together for me. I eventually settled on the woman fourth from the right as most representative of who I perceive myself to be, and then was pleased to notice she’s holding hands with the woman to her left. Really, they all seem to be pretty damned cool women** and I would be happy to embody any of their energy (although the second woman from the left is (A) without a hat in the sun *gasp* and (B) wearing either a shiny track suit or pre-disco-era clothing, neither of which are in my fashion wheelhouse.)
So now I’m home. I immediately called to cancel my Friday appointment with the surgeon, and then settled in to bask in my good news. I also asked Zippy to help document today with a photo of this HAPPY COWGIRL.***
*This was Zippy’s suggestion for wording of the first text I sent after learning the news.
** Confession: It took me a while to catch on, but I finally realized that the fourth woman from the left and the fourth woman from the right are sisters, possibly twins. I mean, once I noticed it, I was kinda embarrassed it took me that long to see the obvious.
***Note: I’m wearing the lucky pants that have brought me good news during two dental appointments (including the news that I DID NOT NEED A ROOT CANAL) and now today’s excellent breast-related news.
On an exhausted field, only weeds grow.
~ Henryk Sienkiewicz
However, tomorrow is another day.
No snow in the near future, but there’s currently a FIRE WEATHER WATCH. That’s just freakin’ great, especially because someone keeps lighting fires in the open space that’s so close I can see it out my window.
Good thing climate change isn’t a real thing, or I’d be feeling really anxious.
The last couple weeks have been warm and DRY and windy and DRY, and I was starting to have serious anxiety about climate change. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s still happening. But this wet snowfall is taking the edge off.
Who knew the white stuff could be a balm for the soul?
Can’t point my finger at just one thing that’s provoking anxiety today,
it’s more an accumulation of a whole lot of stuff twirling in my head.
Image from Morguefile.com
Anxiety and I are well-acquainted with one another,
and I know the best approach
is to acknowledge that the anxiety is there,
accept its existence rather than try to fight it,
and then move on with my life.
I’m feeling anxious,
it’s not a good feeling but I accept that it’s happening,
and now I’m going to go work on my middle-grade revisions.
Take that, Anxiety.