I‘ve never been one to settle. When it comes to my writing, good enough never is. Every word is chosen with great intention. But you know where good enough really is? When you’re doing chores.
I cleaned the house this morning in half the time it usually takes me by lowering my standards significantly. And guess what. The house looks great. No one will ever notice all the little corners I cut because it really doesn’t make a lick of difference. Lesson learned.
Now I’m going to stop blogging and make use of these few hours I just earned myself. Tah.
One of my new years resolutions was to finish my novel this year. Not just this draft, but the whole enchilada.
Following the advice of Sage Cohen, author of The Productive Writer, who did me the honor of writing a guest post for me in January, I’ve broken my larger goal down in to smaller goals, and the first is to finish the second draft by my birthday.
I’ve got six weeks left.
I was making some good progress on the draft in February, but then the freelance work came my way, and I got busy working on the rewrite of my non-fiction proposal, and the novel got pushed to the side.
So damn, just six weeks. I guess the first thing to do is to assess how to spend them. I’m reluctant to pass the time polishing the language, because I expect that I may get some larger notes about the story when I do send it out for feedback. And why is that? There must be something I know is structurally not right if I’m assuming that’s the feedback I’ll get.
Whenever I find myself in this position I tend to fall back on rereading the whole thing, with an attempt at objectivity. It’s time consuming, but if I don’t make this draft as good as I can I’m just wasting the time of anyone kind enough to read it and give me feedback. I hate it when I read someone’s work and their response to my feedback is “yeah, I kind of knew that.” If you kind of know it’s not right, then fix it.
I guess I have to follow my own advice first and do the tough stuff.
One of the hardest things about being a writer is the fact that we work in a vacuum.
Yes, we do occasionally get the heroin-like rush of someone saying they want to publish our work, but really, most days, we sit and type away at our little key boards all by ourselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually love sitting and writing all day, and I have pretty much hated every “real” job I’ve ever had, but there is something about having someone tell you “hey, good work today” that has a nice ring to it.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing some freelance work as of late, writing website content and editing survey responses before they are published widely. It’s interesting work and I really like the company I’m writing for, but (and I’m embarrassed to admit it) the highlight of my whole day was getting this email:
That’s it. The whole email. I am doubly embarrassed to think that my boss might actually read my blog, and think I’m a complete geek, but the fact is, it feels good to be told you’ve done something right. As writers, we so often work for months, if not years, before putting our work out there for feedback, and even then positive feedback is hardly guaranteed.
Anyhow, just thought I’d share. Today I did something nicely.
This may seem like a redundant post, but I just love writing so much. I tell ya, if weren’t already married….
What prompts these admissions of adoration?
I’ve been swamped with freelance work this week and I’m having a lot of fun with it. Yes, it means the novel is on the back burner, which always makes for a little anxiety, but there’s something very satisfying about writing for other people. Maybe it’s all the human interaction I get, you know, conversations that aren’t about diapers or milk, or maybe it’s that I learn all kinds of interesting things when I do this mercenary writing for hire, or maybe it’s the satisfaction of actually finishing something. Whatever it is, I dig it.
So, being as busy as I am today, I’m keeping the blog post short.
Look, if you had one shot, one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted-
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
These are the opening lyrics to the song “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. It’s all about trying to make something of yourself. If you saw the movie “8 Mile,” it’s the song that plays over the credits. Here’s the chorus:
You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime yo
Why am I quoting you Eminem?
I caught the end of “8 Mile” the other day while I was nursing. I’d forgotten how much that song spoke to me when the movie first came out. I was in my 20′s wanting to make something of myself as a creative professional, and feeling kind of desperate. I had this idea that if I worked hard enough, there would some day be one defining moment where all my preparation would pay off and I’d be launched into stardom.
You know what I noticed this time I watched it, as a thirty-something mother of two? Well, after Rabbit (Eminem) wins the rap contest, out-spittin’ his rival and earning the respect of his whole community, you know what he does? He goes back to work.
Whaaa? Where’s the Cristal? The celebratory blunt? The hoes? I never thought about the fact that he just plain old goes back to work.
This time, I got it. These days that “one moment,” that “one shot,” means something totally different to me. This morning, when I sat down to write, I was seizing today’s one moment, one shot. Tomorrow I’ll do it again. In some ways this is liberating, because if you miss one day, there’s always the next, but the flip side is that every damn day you have to muster the energy to treat it like your last and never let it slip by.