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2 weeks ago

925 words

Photo: I don’t even know what this thing in Maine was called… a reach? Is that right? Anyway, it was endless… it just went on and one and we didn’t go to the end. It was beautiful and intimidating and I certainly didn’t have the right shoes for traversing it. I can just see a million twisted ankles from kids jumping around between the rocks flip-flops every summer. Anyway, the endlessness is what I remember, and it feels appropriate today.

 

I’m sitting here at the end of my day and I feel like there is so much to do. After I finish writing this post, it’s back to my notebook and a chapter of Silverwood that seems to have no end. I know it’s going to have to be re-written from the ground up: the symbolism is wrong, the feel and the tone are not as nuanced as I’d like… and then I’ve got this character who I really like and I know where she is going, but I don’t know how to write her. Where my protagonist is experiencing the world exactly the way I want him to, this girl, my antagonist, looks at it all as old hat. She’s bored with it… and therefore I’m bored with it. And that’s a huge problem, ya’ll: if we’re bored, ya’ll gonna be bored, and that’s just… not good storytelling.

I’m supposed to have the first third of the book written by Friday. My story coach doesn’t want the chapters yet (I’m going to give her a full manuscript in mid-June), but she wants a progress report. I really thought it would be smooth sailing for the opening chapters and then hell slogging through the middle. I guess I was wrong. Or maybe… maybe I’ve gotta rethink this character…? Lord, I’ve gotta come up with something quickly.

I applied for the Grub Street Emerging Writer Fellowship last month. Last week I got a surprising email: while I hadn’t earned the fellowship, I had submitted a strong application and was a semi-finalist. They encouraged me to apply again and to perhaps apply for a scholarship to take a class there. I can’t tell you how happy I was to read that! It’s so, so nice to see progress in this long, crazy, silly path I’ve chosen. So far, I’ve submitted things and only gotten a polite “no” via form letter. This is the first time that I’ve ever seen even a small glimmer of growth and affirmation.

Just keep writing. Just keep reading. Lord, I’m trying. I still have two submissions out there. Hopefully I’ll start a little personal streak: even if I don’t get any acceptances, maybe my rejections will at least be personalized. That, believe it or not, would totally be enough for me.

A friend asked me today if I’m managing to write given the circumstances I’ve been living under for the last few days. The answer is yes, but only barely. The deadline really helps. Not everyone is deadline oriented, but I really am, so I have been pushing hard in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise. I wish I could say that whatever I’ve managed to produce is genius and perfect, but the truth is I think part of the reason why I’m struggling with this character and the way she looks at the world is because I’m struggling with myself and the way I’m looking at it. It feels like it would be so easy to slip into an anger or bitterness over everything that’s going on right now. I want to just slide into some feelings and wallow. I want to see this world through unthoughtful lenses and snap at something. How simple and easy it would be to stop holding up all the plates, to let some of them fall and crack at my feet. All the plates… so many plates….

Again with the feeling of endlessness. That’s how it feels. There are a lot of challenges to contend with right now: the house, the vacation, the family drama… it feels like it’s piling on. There are plenty of opportunities to seize on, too. Time, however, is always in short supply. Energy, too. The Husband and I are forever bouncing up against our own human failings. Ultimately, we’re just making choices. Choices have consequences.

I’m choosing to keep writing. No one can tell this story but me. I’m pretty sure that I haven’t made this character really compelling because I haven’t dug deep enough into my own vulnerability to really let her take flight. Perhaps my constant “holding it together” so as to keep everything functioning is actually holding everything back in the wrong kind of way.

I suppose I will have to try a new tactic and see what happens.

Next chapter. 😉

It’s Monday and I’m sure I’m not the only person who is under deadline. Do you have something you must accomplish this week, Dear Reader? I’m sitting here scribbling with you! It’ll all manage to get done for sure. My big goal? To hit my fiction writing goal and manage to do it without putting up a fail post this week. I. Can. Do. This. (I just might not be able to do this without crying, but I can do this!)

And if I can do this, you can do this. Especially if we know we’re in it together.

Breathe into the pressure, Dear Reader. Breathe into your power and ability. You have everything you need.

I’ll see you Wednesday, yeah? Until then, take care.

8 Replies to “Of Endlessness”

  1. Thank you for the beautiful encouragement that inspires me: “Breathe into the pressure, Dear Reader. Breathe into your power and ability. You have everything you need.” Keep on writing and posting, I love your stories and words.

  2. I know aaaallll about deadlines right now. My dissertation is due in two weeks, but thankfully it’s not far off being done. Sent an almost-final draft to my supervisor yesterday and got an extremely positive reply today, which has made me feel all warm and fuzzy. She’s got high standards, so if she likes it, that’s a good sign, right? However, she has still picked out a bunch of things I need to work on, and they’re all going to take time and energy, so I need to commit to doing that.

    I’m also trying to balance this with starting revision for my final uni exams (which start on the 30th May) and preparing for a dance competition on the 29th April (which I’d feel more confident about if I hadn’t sprained my ankle on Friday — I currently can’t dance).

    I am feeling. A little bit stressed. I mean, I’m way ahead of where I was this time last year, but the stakes are so much higher this year. At Cambridge, only final year exams actually COUNT towards your degree, and aside from the dissertation, there’s no coursework: it’s just all about those four three-hour exams in May/June. So yeah. There’s pressure.

    1. YOOOOO I’ve been meaning to get back to this comment. I have been REALLY thinking of you! I hope that your dissertation went well! (“Smashingly?” “Brilliantly?” AMAZINGLY!!!!) I hope that you are feeling SO GOOD About your work and feeling proud of everything you’ve accomplished!

      I hope that you are breathing and not too worried about your final exams. I know that you’re stressed and I want you to stay focused, but DO sleep and DO eat and remember that you need stillness and calm from time to time.

      And I REALLY hope your ankle is better!! Is your ankle better!?!? I hope you’re been able to dance and practice.

      Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. I’m breathing for you. I’m sending all sorts of steady, good, calm vibes in an Easterly direction!

      1. Haha yup. It’s terrible. Some subjects have coursework modules so it’s not solely about the exams, but mine’s not one of them, sadly. Ah well. I don’t like long drawn-out pressure either!

        Dissertation is almost done but not quite — it’s due on Wednesday, so I’m doing the final touches of formatting and proof-reading and desperately hoping I’m not over wordcount at the moment. Which is, of course, one of the most stressful parts, and the part where I start wondering whether maybe my editing is actually making it WORSE. But eh, we’ll get there.

        Ankle is improving. It’s not healed but I’m dancing okay (just have to be a bit careful), so I should be fine for my competition next week. I’ll need to rest it afterwards, though, but that’s okay.

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