Back on the bandwagon.
After being ill pretty much all through October (got wiped out with bronchitis and then a fresh cold when just about recovering) – can I say I got a perspective on feelings of age and mortality? – and feeling so un-energized and uninterested that I actually had no passion for writing (or anything, really) – I discovered that I don’t have it in me to throw in the towel after all.
But, as I began scribbling again, and this time without any pressure to perform given my recent illness, I found that the Muse had returned. Here’s my thought for the day:
The Creative force is not to be commanded. It is to be tapped, channeled. But it’s not yours to Command. That has been my great mistake all along – thinking I can make it march to an ordered pace. Now that I’ve reverting to daydreaming and treating it with more respect as the Mystery and delight that it is, things are starting to come around although, by nature, it’s a capricious and uncertain journey. : )
And lo! I put together various chapters and I’ve hit nearly 70,000 words and the outline of the first book is coming together. At last!!!!
Gratitude, like writing, is a process, an art. I think of Julia Cameron’s famous advice to write 3 hours of longhand each morning to jumpstart the creative process, which I could make time for but typically prefer to spend cuddling the baby – helping oldest daughter put on socks – checking fridge contents for grocery errands post-work – checking email; these and innumerable other tasks. But unlike writing, one can be grateful as one does these things.
Why does it matter? At its core, writing is an act of generosity, of nurturing, of giving. I’ve learned the hard way that one must be filled with something in order to give. Lately I’ve been feeling burned out, blue and hollow and hollow following a high performance streak of give – give – give — giving to family, to clients, to the Muse. Now I’m running low, coasting towards empty. I want days of lounging, slow living, moving at the uncertain pace of my four-year-old sometimes quick and sometimes slow, but always in the moment.
That’s not happening.
We’ve got a startup happening, bills to pay, kids to nurture. Taxes to pay, socks to be mended, family dinners to attend.
But as a friend sharing her considerable burdens reminded me, I have time to be grateful. And in that moment, when we remember and give thanks for what blessings we have, the inner well starts to fill; not completely, but enough to see a sheen of moisture on those dry rocks, enough to oil the gears, resolve the block and let me flow onwards.
Tonight, after a solid 2 hours tidying up the first half of my novel while waiting for my kid to get out of school (oh how my butt hurt from that bench!) I can safely say that I feel it’s getting there. The first half that is. The second, half, ho hum, has yet to spin to a tidy conclusion. And then there’s still Book 2 to deal with.
Still, I feel some hope: part 1 of Book 1 is already long enough to be called a decent-size novella at 40K words. I’m tempted to put it up and self publish as is just to get a response. However, I have a feeling it’ll lack oomph without the second half. (There’s a reason why they are part 1 and part 2 of the SAME book). Either way, the mere thought that I’ve got something nearly good enough to publish without dying of shame has raised my flagging spirits. Beta reader is coming this week, and said friend will be handed a printed copy of the first half to critique. After like 20 years of practising writing novels, classes, finally some progress!
Which means that now I have to put on my thinking cap and see if I can figure out how to self promote. I still haven’t given up on traditional publishing, and I think my book is good enough to be picked up but I’m curious to see if I can break in on self pub. Plus there’s the lure of insta-royalties if you make it. And if the book sinks like a stone, at least my reputation won’t be wrecked!