(Credit for the picture goes to the amazing Chiara Bautista)
So… after two weeks of being bad and not updating my blog, this is what’s been happening.
I’m 35k behind in my NaNoWriMo endeavors this year as of today. Yep. Definitely not going to win. NO, it was NOT because of procrastination! I SWEAR!! I’ve been steadily typing and was even ahead of the game at one point! But this month, for some reason, FAMILY HAPPENED. They usually don’t. They usually leave me in peace and I’m free to be a hermit as long as I wish only fielding an occasional visit or phone call.
Well. Can’t help it.Can’t avoid it. Cupcakes needed to be baked for a nephew’s 5th birthday last-minute. Holiday cards needed to be crafted for commissions. Sister needed to come over and do laundry. Computer needed to be shared with the Husband. Chores needed to be done. Food needed to be cooked. Harry Potter needed to be read…
Now these SOUND like excuses. They’re really not (especially reading Harry Potter) because life happens and I can’t stop it, even for NaNo. It occurred to me that psychologically I should be feeling upset about this. I have an intense fear of failure and this is my 14 year WIP we’re talking about here. I should be quaking in my boots at deadlines and word counts and everything.
But I’m not.
In fact, I’m nearing acceptance that deadlines are rubbish as a beginning novelist, at least for me because all this is–this WHOLE BLOG and NaNo and all my half-written stories– are practice and they’re all going to suck. THEY ARE ALL GOING TO SUCK!!!
DID YOU HEAR ME???!! THEY SUCK!!
BUT! They will become better. WE will become better. Do you know how much stress you’ll save when you accept this? Let me tell you how much. It’s like passing Gall Stones or having a baby. All you feel is relief and it makes the creative process go so much more smoothly.
When I become a famous published novelist I will worry about deadlines and procrastination. But I’m a nub. I don’t HAVE to worry about that! And all it took was one quote from Sir Terry Pratchett:
“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story”~ Terry Pratchett
I birthed this blog from my fear of failure. I wanted a place where I could look back and see my journey, to learn from it, and maybe take some people along with me. I was/am afraid that nothing I write will ever be good enough, no matter how great the idea is. This set me free. (Thank you my dearly departed Terry! I love/hate you. You know why. But thank you).
Every time I get too much inside my own head I sit back and remember this quote. I give myself permission to suck first and write the story in my head. I received a comment along these lines from a reader on another blog post where he admitted he kept coming back to the unwritten story in his head, even after he’d given up on it and had written another trilogy instead. It was so perfect and the comment made this process come full circle for me
I’ve decided I’m going to start here. RIGHT HERE. I’m going to write the story that comes to my fingers first because I know that if I don’t, it will always bother me.
Yes, it kind of contradicts what I’m trying to achieve by being a professional novelist and being all organized and impressive. But there’s no ONE WAY to do it. There are lots of ways to fail and succeed and I know enough about myself that I won’t conform to a rigid schedule. Gotta give the nub some slack 😉 That’s a lesson I was glad to learn, even if it took me 31 years. I’m glad I never listened to the “right advice” because it wouldn’t have meant as much as finding it on my own did.
Writers. We start out with a decision. That is we want to become published and share our stories with the world. After marveling at our temerity, we take the next step full of bravado while secretly cowering like a scared kitten among a pack of dogs. And we start on the journey trying to find the best way to do what we promised ourselves we’d do. So we try imitation. We try post-its, index cards, poster boards and time lines. We try the three act method, the four act method, the Excel chapter method, and many different versions of plot structure. We read the books and the blogs. We freak out about the actual process of publishing, table flip a couple of times and then take a brain-cation where we do nothing at all but watch old 90’s movies and eat bowls of chips.
Oh, you didn’t? It’s just me then? Well wherever your journey is taking you, I hope that you come to accept that you’re not perfect right out of the gate. Write your stories for yourself first. Write the wish-fulfillment, kill your ex-boyfriend, say all those witty one-liners you can never remember when you need them most. Write it all down for yourself and accept that it’ll suck, but you’ll make it better. Satisfy yourself as a writer and a reader first. There will me time for you, your editor and agent to pick apart your work later.
Let’s suck as writers together!!!!! Good luck all. Write on 🙂