Al Jolson once said, “A responsive audience is the best encouragement an actor can have.” Well, the same goes for writers. This morning I received an email from a writing friend that was not only incredibly generous, but also kind and encouraging. Her words have buoyed me all day, and I believe they’ll keep me afloat for quite some time.
I’m hoping I get the chance to do the same for someone else very soon.
I don’t think the goal is, ‘How big a star did you ever become?’
I think the goal is, ‘Were you able to express yourself?’
And if you’re able to say yes, in any field, you’ve won.
If you paint, write, do mosaics, knit –
if it’s solving that part of your brain saying,
‘I need to do this,’ you’ve won.
~ Albert Brooks
Guess what? Today was a win!
To be clear: I didn’t get an Emmy. I just like the look.
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.
There’s a real feeling when you know you’re getting it right. It’s a physical feeling.
~ Robert Caro
Yeah, but what about when you’re not getting it right? Huh? What’s that physical feeling called, Mister I’ve-won-multiple-Pulitzer-Prizes-and-National-Book-Awards??
Around these parts it’s starting to feel an awful lot like baldness.
Took a cue from Marcel, and spent the day reading and revising in our patch of sunshine.
Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.
~ Walt Whitman
After a revision-filled day, I’m pleased with my progress. In fact, if I pushed on for just one more hour, I’d probably make it to The End. But my eyes are screaming for a break and, since my peepers work very, very hard for me every single day, I owe them a respite.
This lemur’s calling it a day.
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.
The bad news?
I’m suddenly feeling a bit rundown
and kinda puny
which is triggering pissed-off thoughts
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?
AUTUMN IS JUST BARELY, OFFICIALLY HERE
AND I’M ALREADY GETTING SICK?!
The good news?
I’ve hit my page goal every day this week, including today,
which means that despite
the fact that humanity is failing on a global level,
(a hugely depressing truth that’s undoubtedly contributing to my
all does not suck.
My plan of action?
Take it easy and repeat my new mantra:
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
ALL DOES NOT SUCK
I’ve been having a really hard time with my middle-grade this past week or so. I didn’t meet my revision goal for the week and was struggling with how to move forward. I was feeling burned out and not-so-enthusiastic about my writing endeavors. Any of them.
It was like an ongoing game of tug-of-war in my head. Back and forth swung my thoughts, emotions, and physical responses. Quit or not quit? Some or all? Finish this or start that? Fiction or nonficiton?
Image from Morguefile.
But as I did my cool-down walk this morning after a trail run, I realized that not making progress on the revision of my middle grade was part of why I feel burned out. It’s exhausting to be in forever-limbo with a project.
I wanted to quit because I felt shitty but I can’t quit because that will make me feel even shittier. In other words, writing can most certainly tire me out, BUT not writing may ultimately be even more draining.
Memo to self: sometimes I’m most tired when I don’t.
(Despite my wonderful little epihany, I am REALLY looking forward to finishing the damned book.)
I’m “supposed” to be working on my middle-grade revisions, but am having a hard time getting motivated. As in, I haven’t touched it at all today. Instead, I took some photos of visitors to the new feeder location and realized it’ll be a whole new learning experience due to the lighting differences. The feeder used to be sheltered by the branches and leaves of the maple tree. Now the feeder is exposed on a slope where the afternoon light hits it hard.
My feathered friends’ photos ended up washed out, and I just spent a while playing with contrast, white balance, etc. settings.
All that time playing with settings, you’d think I’d have something more impressive to show for it. Guess I need to get on those revisions so I actually accomplish something today.
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.
Sometimes a manuscript’s revision requires a total knock-down.
Other times a lighter touch is needed.
Today my process feels closer to weaving than rewriting. I’m focusing on existing threads and interlacing them with other strands.
Note: This woman has a distinct advantage in that she will, without a doubt, know when she’s finished her project. When it comes to revision, I don’t always know when enough is enough.
I must dig deep to find the essence I’ve overlooked, hoping that as I revise I don’t trample the delicate structure already in place.
Gotta float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.
Last night I found out I wasn’t selected as a Pitch Wars mentee and I admit to feeling down. I went to bed thinking I was a loserhead. Then I woke up this morning and reread feedback I’d received from one mentoring team last night, and the wheels began turning. When another mentor sent feedback, one of her comments dovetailing nicely with a bit from the earlier critique, the wheels in my head started cranking in earnest.
Did I agree with everything written? Nope.
Did I have AHA moments as I read their comments? Yep.
Can I quit this manuscript when it’s within my power to strengthen it? Nope.
So does this mean I’m embarking on yet another round of revisions? Yep.
The season’s last clematis bloom.
I exchanged emails with a writer friend about all this and he was a bit horrified that I’m revisiting this manuscript for the umpteenth time. His exact words: I think you’re the type of person who puts a band-aid on just to rip it off!
But that’s the writing life: patches of blue poking through the clouds, an occasional burst of sunshine, and a steady stream of self-inflicted pain.
So it goes.