Finish Each Day and be Done

I've learned this myself the past two weeks.  It's funny.  (Not laugh out loud "ha ha" but more like strange... I didn't want to say strange though... which I have now done, so go ahead and insert your choice of word there, I guess.)  You just don't realize the time and work people put into writing until you're the one doing it.  My fellow writers out there know what I mean, and my fellow readers (who aren't writers) think they know what I mean, but, and I say this in a very polite way, they totally don't.  First time writers don't know either.  We're probably in the same boat as the "readers", getting all excited with the idea of writing, skipping past the in-between stuff and straight to movie deals and recognition, and of course, tons of money.  Talk about delusional.  That's not remotely how it works,  due mainly to the fact that at the beginning, it takes people pointing out that you're not awesome far from ready to submit your better than anything anyone has ever written ghastly work to agents.

So then the process evolves, turning into one more process, another few weeks of editing, to where you know the story is better than it was before, and you think you're ready to submit... and guess what?  You're still not.  It's emotionally and physically and definitely mentally draining.  Meanwhile, like most people, you're trying to continue doing the things you have to do, are obligated to do, holing yourself up often, away from everyone you know in order to do this crazy thing you hate yourself half the time for ever having wanted to do in the first place.

Eventually you get to the point where you can call it "done".  Finished.  Perfect Acceptable.  I think I'm close to that now.  Think.  And hope.  Hope with my entire being that I'm close to calling it a day.  To the point where I can actually submit this thing that's taken over my life, made me ride the biggest roller coaster of my life, want to pull out my hair, shout from the rooftops how proud of myself I am for sticking with it.  And then... it's time to query.  But I won't go into that right now.  That's a whole other blog post.

The point of this post?  Taking two weeks off from everything but just writing and doing what I'm obligated to do around here was the best thing I've ever done.  In fact, I'm sure I'll need to do it again soon.  I learned that the expectations are too high many times.  We set a very high standard for ourselves, and it's not that we shouldn't live up to them, because we should, but we all need a lot more time to get there than we allow.  Doing our best each day and then calling it that, a day, is the only way to survive this process.  

It's kind of like the new mom syndrome, where tons of people are telling you "Take a nap! Sleep when the baby sleeps! Take advantage of quiet time, don't do your dishes and the laundry - just rest!", but you don't do it.  You don't leave the laundry, the dishes, for the next day.  You try to get it all done.  And for what?  It's still going to be there when you wake up the next morning, and the next one, and so on.  But for some strange reason you're convinced that no one knows what they're talking about, that you're stronger and can make it through unlike everyone else without taking time to rest. Then after a month or two the advice kicks in, and you realize how foolish you were not to have listened.  Writing is the same way.  Writers know what they're talking about, people.  It's not a marathon.  It's a journey.  There's no finish line you have to cross in a designated time frame, three months, six months, a year.  

I thought I'd be done in a few months.  That was back in May.  I'm at nine months. I still find it hard to say.  It used to make me feel depressed.  Feel like I sucked because I still hadn't finished.  But I did.  I finished three times, and now I'm near completion of number four.  Four drafts, hours that would make up weeks, at least, of this last round of editing.  And that's a good thing.  Polishing is good.

 So I'll continue working, doing what I know, what I feel needs to be done.  At the end of the day, no matter how much time I've put in, effort is the only thing that matters - more than word counts, page numbers, or anything else. Expectations have to go out the window.  They just do. Goals, on the other hand, goals are good too.  And my goal?  To do the possible, what I'm capable of - to finish each day and be done with it, until I wake up again the next morning.  That will get me there, in the end.  And I'll know I did everything I could.



Anita said...

You and your story have become one. I think that's a good thing. It makes your hard work worth it, and the possibilities very real.

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Thanks Anita! =)

Kerrie said...

Writing is absolutely a journey and too often we writers begin treating it like a race and pretty soon we are not enjoying it anymore because we are worn out. We must be patient with ourselves and our writing, yet keep moving forward and just like you did, stop and smell the flowers along the way.

Unknown said...

This post says it all! I fall into the first time novelist/reader catagory, and I have only just glimmered the work ahead of me. I've been a short story author for several years now, and the transition to novelist is a journey in itself. Thank goodness it's more about the journey than the arrival.

Thanks for following my blog! I look forward to reading more from you, too. Best of luck with your project and the query process!