Two hours ago, my innards were a mass of writhing anxiety and I (briefly) considered cancelling out on a zoom call with some local activists. I’d signed up to learn about the coalition they’re putting together to help the most vulnerable in our community, but felt so overwhelmed I thought it might be best to bail rather than run the risk of falling apart onscreen in front of strangers.
Fortunately, I joined the call and am now feeling much better. Possibly as stellar as this Steller’s Jay. (sorry, not sorry!)
Photo by Zippy. August 6, 2021
Seriously, the folks I met with are doing good work and I’m excited to join their efforts. The current global reality is layered with multiple ongoing traumas and much of it is outside my control. But this local effort stands a very good chance of actually making a difference in people’s lives.
I’m grateful that today I, once again, learned it’s much healthier for me to choose taking action over wallowing in debilitating anxiety.
There are seven writing days left in November and I’m confident I will have 50,000 words by the end of this month. That is not to say it’s been easy. I’ve written every single day — many more words than usual — and fatigue is starting to set in. I’ve never done rock-climbing or even climbed a wall, but this image sums up how I’m feeling today.
While the end is in sight, I’m still smack-dab in the middle of things. Reaching for toe and hand holds as I navigate this first draft. Novel-writing is an endurance activity and my brain and sitting muscles are feeling the strain. Good thing I’ve got the reserves to get me over the top because quitting is not an option.
I will prevail.
It’s Day Eleven of NaNoWriMo and while I’ve managed to achieve my word count each day (a minimum of 1700 words), I’m still susceptible to panic and overwhelm. For example, yesterday as I drove home from my solo writing retreat in Estes Park I wasn’t congratulating myself on the progress I’d made. Instead, I worried that I hadn’t yet found my narrator’s true voice. Then I switched to agonizing over my “too many plot lines” I’d never be able to connect, followed by the certainty that my first draft was such an irredeemable mess it would take years to revise the manuscript into anything coherent.
I felt like a poser. I wanted to run away from the whole thing.
Those feelings mirror what it’s like when I stand in the ocean and watch a huge wave come my way. I experience a slew of emotions. Panic. Exhilaration. Awe. Fear. An urge to run for shore.
While I frequently do run from big waves, I don’t like to run from my writing commitments. So this morning when I woke with those same angsty feelings, I looked for some online support and wisdom to help me reel in negative thoughts about my first draft. I found this: 7 Things NOT to Worry About During Your First Draft
All my worries are addressed in that article which makes me think I’m not the first writer in history to freak out about her shitty first draft. Newsflash, huh?
Today I continue working on my NaNo project. And as the words add up I have those same big-wave feelings I experience when I choose to dive into the wave and then come out the other side. Exhilaration. Pride. Awe.
The desire to do it again.
Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations.
I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty,
believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.
~ Louisa May Alcott
It was a gorgeous weekend here, but I mostly only saw it through the window. That’s the bad news. The good news is that I accomplished what I hoped to do which was finish writing a synopsis for my new middle-grade book (that I haven’t completely written yet) and rework the first six chapters according to that synopsis.
I just hit SEND on those materials and feel pretty damned good.
Cue the sparklers!
Yesterday I was tearing out my hair in frustration over my revisions. I struggled with a couple paragraphs for hours before finally calling it quits. I was in a pretty foul mood.
Today I returned to those paragraphs and am happy to report that the words cooperated. And I didn’t even have to bludgeon them into place.
Even better news is that I then spent the rest of the day going over the entire manuscript and am now ready to send it to a brand-new reader. Do you know what this means? This means I am five whole days ahead of schedule! FIVE WHOLE DAYS, people!
Bracelets made by Laura Hamor of Silver Freckles. Find her on Etsy.
What’s the key to my success?
As always, it comes down to two little words.
I’ve made huge progress on my middle-grade revisions, and am ahead of schedule. Woot! My plan was to have the revision finished before leaving to visit my mother at the end of the month and, because I’ve kept to my pages-per-day commitment, I will succeed. And that feels very good.
However, I can’t help thinking about how much revision has gone into this particular project. Oy. It’s been a long, long haul.
But a wise children’s writer with WAY more experience than me once said:
Revision is the heart of writing.
Every page I do is done over seven or eight times.
~ Patricia Reilly Giff
It’s nice to know I’m not alone.
Yes, it’s pretty darn close to Prevail.
Practically a suburb.
But Resilience also conjures up flexibility and a certain bounce-back-ability.
It’s a good word.
The question is, do I have room for yet another talisman on my wrist?
Once upon a time there was a woman who experienced a ping when she came across the word PREVAIL, and adopted it as her personal motto.
But because she wanted and needed a constant reminder
that she would PREVAIL, she contacted at Silver Freckles.
More than two years went by and the woman wore her beautiful bracelet every day, and it motivated her as she ran and wrote, parented, gardened, and lived her life.
Then one day not too long ago, the woman happened across a wise post from that included this:
” . . . when I sit down to write, I need to do it with actual commitment.
This means a few different things. First, that I need to make the commitment
to sit down and do the work. Second, that when I sit down to do the work,
I need to be willing to really and truly go wherever it is that I need to go for that particular piece.”
Another ping went off in the woman’s head.
So once again, she contacted at Silver Freckles.
And now the woman has two shiny reminders of how she’d like to live her life:
COMMIT to what it is she wants to do and then PREVAIL in her efforts.
So that’s the tale of the two talismans.
And the woman? Well, she’s living happily ever after.