The Writing Life: Patience

Sometimes in the grind of writing, editing, marketing, and then selling your work it is easy to get lost. You forget the vibrancy of first ideas, the thrill of plot creation, the joy of characters growing beyond their first sketches and pushing against the boundaries of their originally envisaged roles. The slog of to do lists can occasionally obscure the thing that all those lists are meant to augment, to promote, to share: the writing, the imagining, the creative heart of all your efforts. The fun. The sheer fun of writing. And you can’t allow yourself to forget that, because if it stops being fun, then the game is over, and writing has become another dreary job that people like to read books to escape from.

I think that a lot of writing is being patient with yourself. Sometimes it’s when you can’t write fast enough to keep up with your ideas. That is a good problem. Other times it’s when you need to let it go that you can’t face a keyboard that night. Not a good problem. I’ve found that self-flagellation doesn’t particularly help – you can’t write any faster than full-speed, and facing the keyboard when you’d rather just space out in front of the TV just produces flat prose. Unless you get lucky and something unexpectedly purple rolls along, puffing and pickwickian, unashamed of its exuberance and in desperate need of being edited into better shape, but jolly all the same!

I’m trying to wear a lot of hats right now, and I only have one head. Patience helps me remember that I can do one task at a time. Patience tells me to do what I can when I can, and not to sweat the other stuff waiting. It will still be there in the morning, but with some patience, and its firm ally determination, the stuff that waited will also be gotten through, in time.

Strange to be a writer in a rush. It isn’t a profession that lends itself to speed, though some of my colleagues out there do have prodigious output. In a rush, yet with not enough time to do everything desired seems to be my current dilemma. So: prioritise, do what you can, and leave the rest. Easy to type, harder to do.

I got my copy edits back last night. A new mountain to reduce to a molehill. I also received my first draft of the cover for The Killer and The Dead. It looks amazing – I can’t wait to share it with you, but details, always details to be worked on first. Another week closer to my Georgetown Book Nook appearance, which can be as simple or as complex as I want it to be. There is a choice there, and with patience and its pal determination, I’ll find my way to the best spot for me, at that time and in that place.

Behind all of this activity, beyond all the plans, is a simple thing I like to remind myself of from time to time.

I love writing stories. They make me giddy, and giggle, and dance and sing (badly, both), they make me enjoy life and everything in it. When I write stories, I am where and when I should be, and it is good.

So be patient with yourselves, writers, and remember these two things amidst the myriad tasks you may have set yourself in order to ‘succeed’: the reason you write, and the reward you derive from it. Then go watch TV.

Happy Thursday everyone!

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