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.