In the kitchen there are too many dirty dishes. In the car there is a bag full of empty coffee cups and a new girl asking about astrology. The wind follows me around as a reminder. I went to throw something in the river, but I ruined the moment on my own accord. I changed directions, then found my way by moonlight. I put up a happy front. I juxtapose my emotions. I say, be brave, when talking to my heart. She’s the decision maker. I’m along for the ride. I don’t even try to backseat drive. If I was paranoid that would be a good excuse to go home. If I was cold/hot/hungry. But instead I scribble notes about secrets. When do I get to reveal myself? When does the seventh skin drop? I look at my calendar for answers. I want a crystal ball and a time machine. Frame a picture of you. Keep that picture of us somewhere deep inside. Pretend not to be disappointed. Notice the lack of fireflies. The dress that hangs from a wire. The shoes that have lost their owner. That’s how I feel. A message flashes on repeat. Even the dogwalkers have gone home.
My readers will know that I am in the midst of a big push to finish my manuscript by the end of July. At the start of each week, I begin edits on the next five chapters of the novel, in the hopes that at the end of the summer I will have a finished product.
I have hit a few bumps along the road. Last week was very busy for me, work-wise. In addition, I was helping my parents get ready for a cross-country trek. I wasn’t able to get my four hours-a-day in. I started to panic.
Instead of driving myself crazy trying to jam the writing into my already packed schedule, I made myself a deal. Take the rest of the week off. Start fresh on Monday.
Yesterday, over a lovely dinner on the porch with my dear friend and fellow writer, I confessed my recent anxieties over my manuscript. It’s not good enough, it will never get published, I’ll feel like a massive failure in front of everyone I know.
My wise friend said several things last night which helped calm my fears.
1. It’s not only about the destination. The journey of writing a novel has been so valuable in itself. Even if I don’t end up with a manuscript that is deemed publishable, I have learned lessons in persistence and the pursuit of a passion, which are invaluable.
2. Don’t push it. Working on any creative endeavor is so different than most other kinds of work. Even in the editing/revision stage that I am currently in, I need to give myself and the novel, time to breath.
3. Be kind to the novel. Whisper to it, my friend told me. Ask what it needs to grow, to succeed. Listen. Be aware of the novel as an entity separate of yourself.
4. Visualize success. As with so many things in life, the simple act of visualizing an outcome can help manifest it. Picture the cover, my friend told me. See the pages, each word, your name on the cover. Let that image guide you.
I want to thank my friend for giving me such great advice, and I felt it was my own responsibility to pass this along to other writers out there.
Whether you are struggling, or the words are pouring out, or you haven’t written in months. I hope that this advice can help you achieve your goals.
As always, Happy Writing and Happy Whispering!
I have to admit, I am not the most patient person. From a young age I have had this problem: I try something new, I expect to succeed right away, and when I don’t I get frustrated and usually quit.
I was even given a nickname that describes this trait: Instant Elena.
That’s what my dad says every time he sees me getting anxious and upset about something I haven’t given its due time. Don’t be Instant Elena.
It’s been a life long lesson; something that, embarrassingly, I still struggle with. Why I have this self-confidence that I should be able to succeed (and right away!) at anything I try my hand at is beyond me.
It’s delusional. Any craft worth learning takes times, diligence, hard work, and yes, patience. Why would it be any different with writing? I know this is something I want, and I’m willing to put in the work. But every now and then I have to remind myself not to be Instant Elena.
It may not happen in one year. It may not happen in ten. And that’s alright. I know I have miles to go before I get to place where I’m ready to publish. But even if I take babysteps, hopefully one day I’ll get there.