I raised my arms way above my head and stretched my back by leaning side by side. I dropped my arms and flexed my fingers a few times. I closed my eyes and toke a deep centering breath. I’d worked my way through my overflowing email box. I’d crossed my way through my to do list. Little L was thankfully napping. I finally had some time to work on my novel.
I opened the document, flexed my fingers once more, and… “WAHHHHHHHHH” Little L’s howl ripped through my moment.
I looked longingly at the last paragraph I wrote – four days ago – and I pushed myself away from the computer. She’s sick. It’s not her fault. She needs her mommy’s TLC, yes, even if it’s been four days since I was able to get anything really done.
Little L’s howls continued, rising to fever pitch as I made my way to her room. I tiptoed into the dark room hoping to cajole her back to sleep, but she frantically clawed at my arms as I leaned into the crib to search for a pacifier so I caved and pulled her out. She instantly lowered her head onto my shoulder and relaxed.
One of the books that currently lives in our bathroom is Chapter After Chapter by Heather Sellers. I’ve been reading it in snippets, which for the most part have left me somewhat irritated both with Heather and myself. I can’t tell if I don’t like what she’s saying because she’s right and I don’t want to hear it or because she’s wrong and I don’t like her patronizing tone. Either way, as I stood there swaying in the dark with my baby dozing in my arms the last chapter I had read kept running through my mind.
Most people, especially on their first book, struggle with a terrible insidious mental weed called Creep. If you don’t surround yourself with your book, you risk it creeping away from you-or you unintentionally creeping away from you-or you unintentionally creeping away from it.
You can’t take your eyes off the book. Not for very long, anyway.
Fight Creep with intention. Tether yourself to the book every day. When you notice it slipping away, turn up the volume on your writing life. All the way to ten.
I don’t mean to let my book creep away from me. God knows I don’t want it to creep away! I love writing it, I love the story, I love the characters, and as I’ve said before, it gives me a huge high to write it. But at the same time it’s harder to write than anything else I work on. I have to dig deeper and be more honest with myself. I know when the storyline is failing or when a character isn’t ringing true and I have to deal with that.
It’s like going to the gym. You don’t want to go, you know it’s going to be hard, that you’re going to have to push yourself, hurt, sweat, everything. But at the same time you know it’s going to be great while you’re doing it and even better after. That said, it’s awfully easy to find a reason not to go, because until you’re there and sweating you’re still stuck in that “ugh, too much effort” mode.
Working on my novel is the same. I want to do it, I know it’s going to be great, I know I’m going to love every moment of it, but I can’t always muster up the energy to get going. And, as much as it chafes to say this, Heather Sellers is right, the more time I let slip between writing sessions the harder it is to get back to it. Just like going to the gym.
Little L patted my cheek with her hand and I realized I wasn’t going to get her back to sleep. I headed out of the room and asked her if she’d like a snack. I set her up with her snack, her favorite blankie, and her pacifier and turned on the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. I sat back down in front of my computer and flexed my fingers again. Then I started typing and didn’t stop until M and C came home, all of ten minutes later. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make me feel tethered to my book again, and it felt great.
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