September Song, aka Pressure

This post has nothing to do with music. Okay, I do have a playlist on Spotify, titled A Working Day, that I do sometimes play to get myself in the key pounding mood, but we’re not talking about that. Well, not totally about that. If the first of September is when my own personal autumn begins, and the return of superpowers is expected, then Labor Day is the real stake in the ground. The calendar date of the official change of seasons never registered with me much. When I was but a wee little princess, the distinction was easy. In summer, I was not in school. In fall, I was. Do not try telling me that most of September is actually summer, because I am not buying that, not even with a coupon.

Right now, I am sitting at my desk, planner open in front of me, my second dose of Lapsang Souchong about two thirds drained from my pink skull and crossbones mug. I have taken my deskscape for the day, edited it, morning pages are written, and now it’s time to assign the day’s tasks. That’s some pressure. It’s September. I’m drinking hot tea. I am wearing a sweater.  Tomorrow is critique meeting. I have only nine more days to get A Heart Most Errant ready for beta readers. That’s a lot of pressure. : screams, runs in circles, arms flailing:

Apart from the critique session, those deadlines are self-imposed. Even with the critique session, that’s a mutually agreed upon date, and either N or I have the ability to move it when life so requires, which it may. We will see. This is the part of Her Last First Kiss where writing the first draft showed me that some things need to work differently in the second draft, and that always brings up a lot of concerns. Can I do this part of the story justice? Am I up to this? Do I need to write through splayed fingers, horror-movie-watching style (extremely difficult with either pen and paper or keyboard, possibly do-able with speech to text) because this part of the book hurts, both for Ruby and her Hero.  I know things will turn out all right. I already wrote the story.  This should not affect me this way.

Aha. Should. My old enemy, we meet again. Should has dragged me into a lot of trouble before, and I am not giving up my Labor Day for that kind of folderol. I should have had these pages already written. I should breeze through this with nary a care, because that’s what real writers do. I should sit down at the keyboard and bang out x thousand words in a session. I should write this or that or the other thing. I should, I should, I should…STOP.  Yeah, we’re not should-ing over here. Not today. Not when leaves are starting to turn, and I have pretty notebooks and fountain pens that need ink, and a faithful mews curled in my doorway, engaged in some pretty serious fur maintenance.

Not in September, the month I’ve been waiting for all summer, the month I wait for every summer. One would think that, since I know I get me-er in September, there wouldn’t be this feeling of pressure, but here it is, and the question becomes, what am I going to do with it? One of the things I like about breaking my day down by hour (that’s what the numbers and lines in my planner are) is that it lets me see that I really do have plenty of time.

Normally, when I set up my daily pages, I color code the hours, from light gray to dark gray, the one shot of color at noon and six, meal times. I like the rhythm of that, knowing that the darkening or lightening of the gray means the day is progressing. This morning, I was distracted, and colored in all the numbers in the color of the day. This tells my brain that everything is of the same importance, which may be sending a “do it all right the heck now” signal, which also tells me I don’t want to do that again.

What I do want to do is get this blog entry written, posted and publicized, and then take a step back from this section of Her Last First Kiss and make a plan for exactly what form the changing scenes need to take. Right now, my heart aches for Ruby and her Hero, now that they both know how they feel, and how impossible being together is, because of things. Hero aches because he really does believe there has to be a way to make this happen, and Ruby aches, because, deep in her pragmatic heart, she’s convinced that’s not how life works for people like her. She’s wrong, of course, because this is a romance novel, but, for where she is in the story, her only choice is to put up that emotional armor and soldier on, the only way she knows how. I will say this for her: she has a unique work ethic.

This is going to require some research for me, since I have hit on one of the “eh, I’ll figure that out later” things, and, well, it’s later. It’s September. Labor Day. Crunch time. We are past the point of no return on this draft, and I want to do this right. For both of them. For the readers (to which I am tempted to also add “both of them,” but that’s another matter.) For me, because I want the happy ending, too. There’s no feeling for writers that comes even close to typing The End on a final draft. Getting towards The End for a second draft is an important step in that journey, and every step in that direction counts.

So, today, I have my planner open, my A Working Day playlist on Spotify, and a third cup of tea in my immediate future (not Lapsang, though, because I know my limits; good ol’ Typhoo to the rescue) and then it’s time to head back to the eighteenth century.

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