How had I never seen this before?!?!?! Weird Al you tickled my nerdy bone.
Okay, now back to writing.
I am a procrastinator. There, I admit it.
I am awesome at ideas, terrible at execution. Particularly when those ideas are near and dear to my heart. The more I want something the more I tend to procrastinate. I have heard many theories throughout my life about why I do this: fear of failure, fear of success, hardheadedness (is that a word?), a need to go against the grain, blah blah blah. Whatever it is, I will be the first to admit that it is a giant pain in the backside that tends to frustrate everyone that knows me at some point or another. Fastest way to get me to cringe: use the word “potential” – I shudder as I type it.
This charming quirk of mine has left me in many a tedious rut throughout my life and often finds me, head in the clouds, daydreaming of the shiny land of what-if.
The shiny land of what ifs is fabulous at creating a stories, but dreadful at sitting down to edit for the second draft. And yeah, sure, I could give you many (many) excuses as to why I haven’t completed my second draft but the hard truth is I simply haven’t done it. Bad me.
But lately, as a result of my company being sold, the good ole’ what do I want to be when I grow up conversation that we all have with ourselves at some point when we realize that what we are currently doing is a deadend has been doing a manic cha-cha in my head. The cha-cha danced to the rhythm of “oh my god, I am not going to have a job, what am I going to do.”
And since I am a procrastinator and hate making plans I did nothing. Shrugged my shoulders and decided to see where the cards fell. I would deal with it all tomorrow, while biting my nails to the quick as the uncertainty of it all made me twitchy crazy. And let me tell you folks, this is not the most healthy of ways of dealing with uncertainty. It does however create a certain level of cavalier-ness that is borderline nihilistic. That self-destruct button has looked mighty good at times. Corporate rat race be damned – cue evil laughter.
And now, almost a year later, as I find myself on a weird limbo of an integration team I have come to realize that I actually pretty lucky. Weird limbo means i have time to explore. Time to figure things out. Time to WRITE THE DAMN SECOND DRAFT. All while I am still being paid a salary.
Realizing this, however, did not make me more productive. And the lack of productivity added to my stress. Sneaky should-a-could-a-wouldas decided to join the dance party. Joy.
But here is the curious thing, this morning I woke up and my first thought for some reason was “The hell with it, I am gonna finish my book” and so I wrote a quick list of writing goals that I want to accomplish by October 1. I took a picture of it and sent it to my friend S with a quick note for her to please ask me about these things along the way so that I could stay on task. And this is the point, folks, where I failed to remember that S is an accountant because she replied with a request for estimated/budget hours until completion so she would have an ballpark idea of time to allocate towards the completion of task 1 so we could create a percentage of completion report (yeah, it all sounded like Greek to me as well).
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, (I laughed). And strangely enough I sat down and did what she told me to do. All of a sudden the giant how the hell am I going to complete this second draft dilemma that I have had for the last six months vanished. And I spent 4 hours organizing the backstory that I need in order to move forward. It seems all I needed was an accountant to break it down into feasible chunks which didn’t overwhelm me. She also bribed me with wine.
YOU’D THINK I COULD HAVE FIGURED THIS OUT ON MY OWN.
Oh well, I now have a plan. And a taskmaster.
Yes, this is me, shaking my head at the crazy things I do to get my book written.
I am supposed to be editing, working on world building. Instead I am trolling the internet, looking at talks on vulnerability and creatives by the awesome Brene Brown.
It is 20 minutes long, so give yourself some time to watch it.
The video gave me goosebumps. The second she said that her presentation was called Sweaty Creatives, she had me. And by sweat she means that cold sweat that you get when you share your work with others, not the sweat that comes from hard work.
I am very familiar with that cold sweat. As a writer, there is always that sweat. It pops on my brow when I come up with a story, when I sit and create characters, when I reread a line and love it. It beads on my upper lip when I send my work to friends for feedback; and it trickles down my back when I take writing classes, clogging my throat at the thought of reading my work out loud.
I think that everybody that does something creative feels this to a certain extent, that crazy “what if” fear that the vulnerability of creating brings forth. As she says in her talk “without vulnerability you cannot create”.
What I thought was fabulous about her talk is that she talks about the critics that we face and the gremlins that ping pong in our heads as we prepare to present out work. I LOVE her message about facing your critics and saying ” I see you, I hear you. But I am going to show up and do this anyways.”
Then she goes and quotes Theodore Roosvelt:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
I think I heard harps and trumpets when she quoted this. Yep, I admit it writing scares the daylights out of me.
But it is that idea that the story in my head could truly be great that keeps me at my keyboard.
So on that note – I am off to answer all the hard questions about my book that I have been avoiding for fear that if I didn’t like what was on the page it meant that I had somehow failed the story. The story deserves better than me stalling – as that old Japanese saying says “knock me down seven times, get up eight.” That is what editing feels like.
I bought a pretty new pen today. A fancy fountain pen. My pretty fancy fountain pen makes me happy. It reminds me of the joy I get from writing.
I have no idea what it is about the skritchy-scratch of a fountain pen on paper that always makes me smile. Nor do I know why writing longhand seems to make the words flow with more ease. Whatever it is, it is working again- words are filling up the page.
It is so easy to get caught up in the crazy whirlwind of the everyday and forget to do those things which make us happy. My pretty pen makes me want to sit and write. It makes me long to fill pages and pages with fabulous adventures. And yes, I do see the irony that I sat down to type after I used my pen. But still, my pen makes me happy.
That is the magic of a great pen. You twirl it in your fingers, tap it against your chin and unleash it onto the page and unfurl whatever is on your mind. Sometimes it soothes the wild frantic beastly thoughts racing about in my mind, sometimes it jumpstarts a crazy moment where I see with crystal clarity where my story should go.
I think I got wrapped up on in those pesky “rules” that tell us how we should be writing and how we should edit. Whatever process that works for you is the process. Perhaps, I was a little taken aback by the actual process of truly writing a novel. It isn’t straightforward, and I am my harshest critic. The story that I envisioned, is not the story that I wrote. And I am struggling to merge the idea of both.
So as an editing exercise I am going back to basics. Pen and paper. An outline. And for that I am glad to have my fancy pants fountain pen to remind me that YES, I DO LOVE TO WRITE.
I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. ~Thomas Jefferson
I came across an article a while back about luck and what it is that people who are deemed lucky do differently than regular folks that makes them so lucky. It was interesting to see that the only thing that they really seemed to do differently was to open themselves up to the unknown and breaking out of routine. Is being lucky really that easy?
The principles of luck according to luck psychology:
1. Maximize chance opportunity
2. Listen to lucky hunches
3. Expect good fortune
4. Turn bad luck into good
I don’t know about you, but I could apply those principles to betting on a horse at the races and come up $20 poorer (yeah I know, I am such a gambler).
Two weeks ago I was approached about a possible opportunity at a different department. Whooo! Opportunity and my hunches were saying full steam ahead. And then last week my company got sold. Bad timing? Bad luck? Who knows. All I know is that all of a sudden I have been thinking about things a little differently.
I am kinda feeling like I have just received a giant cosmic kick in the pants. A rare opportunity to sit back and go: what do you really want? So I am giving myself a deadline – March 31, 2015. Clean final draft is due then. Because that is what I want to do: write.
All I need is a little luck… and a lot of hard work.