A seemingly consistent theme on The Veg Voyage this year has been letting go of certain “rules” or “timelines” that don’t actually serve me. I’ve been trying hard to stop letting the desire for everything to be done perfectly (with a specific timeline in mind) get in the way of getting it done. As we make our way through the last months of the year, I am reevaluating some goals I made back in January.
I’m learning that life is fluid (yes, I’m still learning this…!) and while your goals should be intact, they should also be flexible. Pliable. If something is no longer working for you – despite putting in the time and effort – I think it is okay (beneficial, even!) to move on to the next thing. With this in mind, I am doing something radical. I am consciously deciding to abandon a few goals I set for myself this year. This is new and, yes, radical for me because once I set a goal, I almost always see it out until the (sometimes biter) end.
Case and point, my first book. After I graduated college with my BA in Communication – and realized that the working force wasn’t entirely eager to accept my lacking work experience into it’s 9 to 5 fold – I decided to write a book. (You can buy The In Between on Amazon but I’m not necessarily encouraging you to.)
When I sat down (I still remember the exact table I sat at in Peet’s Coffee when I first flirted with the plot) I decided I didn’t want to write about a love story between a man and a woman. I wanted to write about a love story between friends! And, since I was in between “life phases,” I thought it was a good idea to write about the time between college and career. For the next 10 months I wrote basically everyday; even when I didn’t feel like I had a creative cell in my head.
On one hand, this is a part of the process, right? To be a writer is to have run-ins with writer’s block. Sometimes you do just have to push through it for a few days. But on the other hand, creativity and curiosity are important pillars in the writing game and if you aren’t eager to see what your characters do next (for weeks on end), it might be time to save them on a hard drive and bring them back to life another time. (Or, not. You can decide to leave them there forever too…)
My point is, if your curiosity for what you’re working on ditches you, your creativity will follow. At least that’s how it works for me; Curiosity and Creativity – siamese twins, I’m telling you! So, my curiosity and creativity left me high and dry but I kept on trudging. Like a brainwashed solider, I refused to surrender and, disappointedly, it shows in my story.
Overall, of course I am proud at my accomplishment of following through and actually writing a book (!) but, in the spirit of transparency, it was/is not my best work.
Truthfully, I was motivated mostly by meeting a specific word count. I had an idea that a book was not.a.book unless it was ~70,000 words and I would not stop until I got there. The In Between does have a hefty amount of words but, because of it, my story was compromised. It is too long and repetitive.
Luckily I realized this fatal flaw and – I believe – fixed it in my second book, The Next Step, which is a short and sweet continuation of The In Between. But here again, I let a preconceived notion (this time the timeline! I had to be done by the end of the year!) compromise my story and writing. (I also realized that a lot of people write about romantic love stories because a lot of people like reading about romantic love stories. The Next Step is about a relationship; something I had avoided being the main storyline in my first book.)
When it came time to write my third book (title TBD), I decided to incorporate romantic relationships, friendships, and – as an added layer – family relationships. I started writing “#3” – as it is creatively titled on my drive – last year. The story is centered around 3 sisters and I was curious about them until around December… Then, it the midst of the cold winter weather, my interest started flat-lining.
So, in 2016, I said it was okay to let my characters rest for a while. I would safely save them on my Google Drive and come back to them in one year (still a sucker for timelines, I suppose!). However, I knew I still needed to flex my writing muscles… so, I set out to write short stories and concentrate more on my blog.
It’s September now and I have 6.5 short stories written and, honestly, I don’t know if any of them are good! Most of them were written out of obligation, not inspiration. Which is important in it’s own right because it’s crucial to keep writing all of the time! …But, having said that, it doesn’t mean you ever need to share what you write (if you don’t want to or you don’t think it’s worthy of readers).
Anyway, a curious thing started to happening to me… I stated to wonder what my 3 sisters were up to. Suddenly deeper plots and story points started developing in my mind and I knew… I knew it was time to say sayonara to my short stories and give “#3” a warm, welcoming, “hello again” hug.
I’m also going to start posting on here (hopefully) once a week! You’re welcome Mom, Mike, and my other 4 readers. 😉