I figure I might as well clue you all in on how it goes behind the scenes. You know, the stuff you don’t see on my posed and filtered Instagram feed.
Everybody who knows me knows I’m currently editing A Trial of Sparks & Kindling. I haven’t been shy about that fact so far. But here’s what you don’t know.
My jaw is clenched, but I have butterflies in my stomach. I have three open books in front of me: one says what I have to do today, one has notes on how my characters talk, one tells me what I have to fix and keep consistent in this edit, and has a page full of notes on environmental stuff that I want to weave into the narrative. I’ve never been much of a planner, but for the first time ever, I’m going into Book 3 with such a detailed plan, that I have loads of stuff to foreshadow in ATOSAK. I’m afraid I’ll miss something important, which is the biggest contributor to my stress levels ATM.
A length of bandage and its fastening clips, and my wrist guard are just above the keyboard, in case I need them (and I will, before lunch). I’m sitting so straight my back is straining, but hey, at least I’m not fully on that tailbone. I’m fighting a cold, and the medicine makes me drowsy.
The keyboard is new. My husband got it for me two weeks ago, because various buttons on the old one didn’t work anymore. I’m still getting used to the fact that all the keys work again, and I don’t have to bash down on them for them to show up anymore.
Amid the other clutter on my desk are some pictures my daughter drew, a stuffed toy, a pencil case, and my phone (which is on silent mode).
I’m typing this to you and thinking of what I have to write today, while silently wondering if it’s a problem that I’ve already added over 4000 words to the manuscript, and I’ve edited only 8 chapters. My editor said it was okay, so it has to be, right? Even in a blog post, I’m not really there.
I’m not telling you all of this to freak you out (though this cluttered desk sure as hell freaks me out). This post comes from a place of wanting other writers and aspiring writers to know it’s going to be okay.
The process is often messy. Demanding. Sometimes, all I can do is stare at the changing backlights on my keyboard. Other times, I write so fast I don’t even know what I’m writing.
And I have to work fast. We’re going to South Africa for an unplanned visit soon, and I want to be finished editing before we get on the plane.
Inspiration comes and goes, but the urgency to get the work done is constant. There’s this sense of guilt when I’m not writing, but I’ve learned to accept it as my ever-present companion.
You see, this time I must hold back, South Africa or not. It won’t help if I burn out. So, I’ve been forcing myself to take breaks, to get enough sleep, to step away.
This book is special to me. The first book was too, but that was the portal into Cara’s world. In the sequel, the world is established, and we can focus on the greater storyline. Things happen in ATOSAK, and this book sets the pace for all that is to come–something that isn’t a vague idea in the back of my head anymore. I know exactly where I have to go with this series.
And that makes all of the insanity that is the process worthwhile.
So, if you’re out there, editing up a storm, don’t lose hope. Maybe you’re drafting, and nothing makes sense anymore, but don’t lose hope. Maybe you’re comparing yourself to other writers–don’t–but don’t lose hope. Maybe you were putting the finishing touches on your story and discovered an avoid-at-all-costs trope or plothole, and now everything has gone back ten steps, but don’t lose hope.
If it were easy, everybody would be doing it. You’re still a part of the small percentage of people out there who actually went and did it. You went beyond saying you want to be a writer, and you’re writing. You’re an elite. You’ve got this.
And with that inspirational thought of the day, it’s back to the trenches with me. Ha, trenches–just something I’ve been madly researching this week for my book. Oh boy.