I found the image on The Frugalpreneur. Please let me know if it originated elsewhere so I can give correct credit!
It really resonated with me, particularly today, when I was feeling stressed and pulled in a zillion directions and needed to focus on what is most important.
Not the Day Job. Not housework. Not getting a new capsule wardrobe sewn before I next travel. Not criticising my husband for all the things he does that annoy me. Not organising my finances. Not ebaying. Not planning the trip. Not researching. Not starting that new writing workshop I signed up for. Not even reading inspiring blogs and books.
Two things are important for me.
Cherishing the people who are closest to me, making sure they know how much I love them. Showing them, not just in words but in actions.
And writing. Being true to myself and my creativity. Showing up. doing the work. Finding what is emotionally real.
I’ve been procrastinating. Writing came last on my to-do list. Oh sure, I’d done things I could pretend were kind of writing. Done my morning pages. Kept plugging away at the touch typing (painfully slowly). Read writing blogs. Chatted with my writing buddies, and yes, there was a bit about the story in there.
But actually doing the work, getting down and dirty and storyifying, not just thinking about it, came last. I stayed insanely late at work one night and got home so exhausted I wrote nothing at all. The next day I did a bit of planning and wrote a paragraph or two. The following couple of nights I squeezed out maybe half a page each night, writing at 11pm after everything else got done.
Today, I didn’t want to do that. First thing this morning, I read Jeff’s Manifesto and it hit home, an arrow deep into my soul. Smack bang into that fearful little part of me that doesn’t want to try because trying means risking failing again, and it’s so much safer not to let that happen. Think about it, sure. Have great story ideas, sure. Play around with character development and plotting, sure. Starting new stories I never finish? Sure.
It’s the ultimate lie. I’m writing, I tell myself. Oh yes, I’m writing. And it’s safe. Risk free.
But actually writing and polishing and finishing a story? Getting it out there, where it can be seen? Taking the chance of another rejection? Another form R? Another I-liked-this-but-didn’t like-that? Another it-just-didn’t-work-for-me?
That’s what I’ve been afraid of. So I procrastinate. Or I jump from story to story to story, never going deep.
Today, I realised, it’s not just the rejection I’m afraid of.
It’s digging deep. It’s the emotional pain. The hurting with and for the characters that has to happen for a story to be deep enough and real enough to touch a reader’s heart.
First, it has to touch mine.
I have to feel that pain, that deeply buried wound, that hurt the characters is defending so desperately, to be able to write it. I have to die with the characters in their Black Moment. I have to soar with them when they finally achieve their happy-ever-after. If a reader is to feel anything when she reads my story, I need to feel it too, not just as much as she does, but ten, twenty, a hundred times as much.
That’s what I’m really scared of.
Today, I read Jeff’s Manifesto. Nothing in there explicitly about feelings and emotional depth. But it IS all about being real as a writer, writing what is true.
I sat down and wrote.
And I had a MAJOR breakthrough on my heroine’s issues. I realised what my heroine is hiding, what secret wounds she’s protecting. When I realised it, I cried. My heart still aches for her. I had to stop writing. It just feels so real and so true. That poor little girl she was, I want to hug her, and I can’t. And that sucks. Luckily, I can get the hero to do it instead. I have to write, so she gets her peace, her resolution, her chance to overcome the past. No-one else can do that for her but me.
I’m very very glad this story got rejected in it’s first incarnation. It’s going to be so much more than it was.
This blog is a procrastination too. But this is a different procrastination to what I did yesterday. This is a I-need-some-time-to-process-this-so-I-can-do-it-justice type of procrastination. I will write this story. I will get Tash her happy ending.
I’m not writing a story to sell. I’m writing a story because it feels real.
For now, I’ll go back to first drafting. What I know about the heroine may not have much impact yet, in the early chapters. But I’ll know it. It’s there and it’s big and it’s real.
I’m going to write it. Even though it hurts. Even though it will make me cry. Even though the story may still get rejected.
We only have today.
That is all we are ever promised.
And today, we must write.