I want to know that there’s something just beyond MY ability, that I can eek (sic) out one day that can move people like I’ve been moved.
I’m grumpy today. Kitty with tummy trouble will do that to a gal, and coming on the tails of a Monday and a half, especially with a gorgeously cool and rainy day that I would love to spend reading, especially (yes, two especiallies in one sentence; it’s that kind of day, and it’s my blog, so hush) now that we have a comfy cushion on our windowseat, the temptation to give this day a certain digit and slack off is strong.
Here’s why I’m not. In a word, discipline. I am the first one to turn into a whimpering ball of jelly when I look at the publication date on my most recent book. I am also the one in charge of the publication date for my next one. I have a novella scene due to my collaborator tomorrow, so I need to get that down today, at least the bare bones. I can do the bare bones, even when I’m grumpy and have one eye on kitty doings. Not consciously drawing on Anne Lamott’s one inch picture frame, but it’s similar.
Organizing and making lists works incredibly well for me. I don’t have to write the entire book today. Shoot, I’m only writing part of the book, because Collaborator Melva kicks writing butt and we are so much on the same page (pun intended) that it’s scary. It doesn’t have to be perfect. If I’m off, she’ll tell me, and we’ll fix it, together. What it has to be is written. That’s it. Bullet points are fine. Present tense is fine. I can fix bad, but I can’t fix blank. (Thank you, Nora Roberts, for that one.)
“Do what you can do, when you can do it,” is a phrase I learned while caregiving, and it applies to writing as well. Life is going to happen. Cats are going to throw up, phones are going to go to the great charging station in the sky, and grumpy days are going to happen. These are the times I like to focus on what I can do, rather than what I can’t, or haven’t, or didn’t. One of the items on my bare bones to do list was write today’s blog entry. I had nothing when I started, unless fretting pet-aunt mode was an option (on a writing blog, it usually isn’t) and Skye is currently hanging out in her regular rainy day spot under the bed in the master bedroom. She has a bowl of water, and I’ll keep an eye on her. The other eye has to be on the writing.
This isn’t my favorite entry. I’m blabbering, but it’s honest. It’s where I am. That’s something I’m working on strengthening, in both fiction and nonfiction. I have Ben Folds’ new album playing, a mix of his usual music and a symphonic orchestra (my love for pop/rock combined with an orchestra knows no bounds, really it doesn’t) because his work is always good for jump-starting my own. Getting to those deep emotions and the insecurities characters like to hide from the world, because those are things that will prove them weak, get them rejected, make them vulnerable. Those are my jams. I love that stuff. In romance, I can throw basically anything at my characters, as long as they end up happy and together at the end. Since I write historical, that means I can use wars and natural disasters and political upheaval, and all of that ready made good stuff to cause bumps in the road to Happily Ever After.
Being a character focused writer means that I can play with the voices in my head when I don’t know what we’re going to be doing today. That’s a good jumpstart again. If I don’t know how they’d react to X, then that means I don’t know them well enough, most likely, and we are going to need to have some tea and a good long talk, them and me. We’ll get through it. Bullet point by bullet point. There will be another day when I blaze through multiple scenes without breaking a sweat. Taking this day for what it is, doing what I can, and then refilling the well is the best way to get to that new release, the next article, and hey, look right there. I wrote a blog entry. Cross that puppy off the list and let’s get back to that novella scene.