As I plow further into 2018, I’ve been thinking a lot about how progress is made. Sometimes I find myself getting impatient with everything from how fast the tea gets hot to why I haven’t finished that short story yet. (Not to mention traffic and waiting three light-cycles to get through the left turn.)
But I’m coming to settle into the fact that everything happens in baby steps, and sometimes you can’t even see that you’re moving forward until you stop to look back at where you came from. When I get frustrated with myself about why I’m not skipping and sprinting (yet), I try to remind myself that it is impossible to do those things until I take all the baby steps.
And I’m beginning to think that, at least with those Big Life Goals, baby steps are all there is.
I’ve been measuring time spent writing my current novel manuscript in imaginary unborn babies. Lately, they both seem about the same amount of effort and energy.
I’m now up to about a baby and a half.
In past years, I’ve gotten excited for NaNoWriMo, though I’ve never completed writing the Herculean 50K words in one month. This November, my goals are not a word count, nor anything so definite as a deadline (that makes that lovely whooshing sound as it passes by). I’m just going to keep my head down and stick to my mantra BIC-HOK (thanks, “Writing Excuses” team). Butt in chair, hands on keyboard, at least a little bit every day.
When I first started working on this manuscript a baby and a half ago, I thought I would be done in a few months. As each month passes, I get better at taking the long view.
Also all of my cells are vibrating for the release of Brent Weeks’ Blood Mirror. If you’re reading this, you should read it (and those in the series before it).
I’m a bad waiter. I want things when I want them – a spoonful of ice cream, an answer to my text message, a response from that magazine.
I spent days, months, (years!) working on those sentences there, and now that I’ve submitted them, I want an answer now! Can’t you see I’m tired of waiting?
In the days immediately following a submission, I jump to check every email or notification on my phone – is that the response? Did I get rejected yet? Can I celebrate another “failure” with a scoop of exorbitantly expensive gourmet ice cream from the place down the street?
No. No I cannot. Because it is Petco reminding me to Save BIG on top food brands! or AbeBooks announcing Sale Order Confirmed!
But what if I check my email on my computer? Will that look any different than it does on my phone? It might. Let me check.
No. Nothing. Still Petco. Still AbeBooks. Oh there’s a new email! It’s a line of bold, beautiful text! What if it’s — No. Lanier Under the Lights 5K – Register Today!
Michael Crichton was a pretty cool dude. He said this, which has been my mantra for the past few months:
“Books aren’t written – they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it.”
I’m not on the seventh rewrite (yet). I think this is only the fourth, but I’m getting there. I sent my third draft to my first reader about a month ago and she told me, “It’s great, but it doesn’t have a middle.” I said, “I know, but I was hoping I could skip that part.” She said, “No. Middles are important.”
So I’ve been rewriting a middle. And once I rewrite a middle, I’ll rewrite the rest of it (again).