Friday, April 27, 2007

A Caveat

I need to make a point about my post below. People have commented that I'm being too hard on myself. (But thank you so much for the sentiment - I appreciate each and every person who takes the time to read my blog and/or post a comment!) But there's a reason I'm hard on myself.

Why?

When my daughter was born, I made a deal with my husband. If I could have a book contract in hand before my daughter entered kindergarten, I wouldn't have to get a full-time job. I had the unbelievable blessing of being able to stay home with my daughter after I gave birth. In fact, I didn't get a full-time job until two years ago. She will turn seven this month.

So what did I do with those five years?

I procrastinated. I thought I had loads of time to get this accomplished. I worked on the same darn novel year after year. I wasn't focused. I wasn't learning much about craft. I wrote a lot of short stories and went on a lot of message boards.

Yeah, I know. I had a baby to take care of. And two stepsons. And a husband that worked on the railroad that wasn't home very much. In 2002, I went to grad school. Then I graduated and got a degree.

Wow, you might think. You didn't have time to work on your novel and get a publishing contract.

Yeah, I did.

I watched too much t.v. I ate too much. I made too many excuses. I kept saying, "Some day I'll get really serious about this." After all, I had time, right? Five years is a LONG time.

Guess what?

In the two years since I've taken on a full-time job and really dedicated myself to my writing craft, I've finished the first novel, submitted it, had rejections and requests for fulls and partials. I finished a second novel - IN ONE YEAR, not FIVE like the last one took! Submitted it. Had rejections and requests for partials (two of which I'm still waiting to hear on). I've drafted two entirely new novels that I can't wait to get started on. I've dived into the business aspect of writing, I've read craft books, and I quit making excuses.

So there's a reason I'm hard on myself. I've wanted to be a writer since the sixth grade. It's all I've ever wanted to do. I've wanted a book publishing contract since the tender age of 12.

That's a long time to have a dream.

BUT...

and this is a big but...

All of my life experiences have shaped me into the person - into the writer - I am today. I am a firm believer in God's path for my life and I can see how He wanted me to take this journey. He probably knew that I couldn't write what I needed to write to get that book publishing contract until I went through everything He wanted me to.

Now, I feel like I'm ready. Really ready.

So procrastination cannot be a part of this writing life. Yes, I will take breaks. Yes, I will have days where I'll give into the excuses. But they must be few and far in between.

If I sound a little hard on myself, that's ok - I need to be. I need to take the reigns of control and head myself off at the path before I fall into that trap again of thinking, "Oh, I've got plenty of time." There's no more time to think like that anymore. I want to live this writing life - now - and that means dedicating myself to it. It means learning the craft. Putting in the hours. Immersing myself in my story. Living the writing life.

9 comments:

  1. Well, in that case...40 lashes with a wet noodle. *snort*

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  2. I am the same way, Melissa. I definately understand. My issue is that I tend to be remarkably easy on myself. If I set my own deadline, I can say "Oh, it's ok, I'll give me an extension!" only too easily. So I try to overcompensate and really push myself to make deadlines and things like that. Otherwise there's always another episode of Gilmore or Grey's or one more chapter to read, etc. ;)

    I've wanted to be a published novelist since as long as I can remember, too, and it's *going* to happen for both of us!

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  3. I completely hear where you're coming from with this. There ARE too many excuses out there, including--koff--blogging! Sometimes I think I get more accomplished when the pressure is on and my time is scarce...because then it's not actually likely that I'm going to get anywhere, and it becomes a personal challenge. Maybe that's why you've done so well since working full time? (And maybe I need to get a job outside the home!)

    I'm going through the same crud you are right now: too long away from the script and now it seems excruciating to face it. (Why is that?) Today I did it, though: 5 little pages. So keep the faith. If I can get out of my funk--or start to, knocking on wood--then you can too! :)

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  4. When I was teaching it used to amaze me the number of students who were disappointed that they actually had to work at being a writer. They thought the mood would strike them and they'd be able to rattle off 300,000 words, and then sit back while editors came to them asking to see their masterpiece.

    Writing is hard work. You do have to push yourself - or most of us do. Unless you're very lucky.

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  5. "Living the writing life." I may have to print that out and hang it above my desk. Thanks for the kick.

    Amy

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  6. Devon Ellington6:59 AM

    I think you sound like you're at a realistic place -- you know what you have to do to get what you want, and you're willing to do it, without making excuses.

    Right there, you've started on the road to success.

    Part of being professional is knowing when to be hard on yourself and when to cut yourself some slack.

    Good for you!

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  7. Melissa, I empathise with everything you've said here (it's also part of the reason why I've not been around so much lately).

    I love your attitude - it's going to get you far.

    Love,
    Sue :-)

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  8. Hey Melissa, you sound really motivated! Could you pass some of that my way?

    I can totally relate though. Sometimes I think the busier we are with other things, the more we'll accomplish. Not quite sure how that works, but when I have all the time in the world to do something, I, um, don't.

    Congrats on all your accomplishments since you've gotten so motivated!

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  9. I know what you mean about having to be hard on yourself. I'm the same way.

    With such determination and dedication, I'm sure you'll sell soon :)

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