About Times and Places

As most of you, especially those on Twitter, know, I bought a house! And I have spent the last few weeks of my life spending every moment not at work either unpacking, tearing out moldy garage wall, and attempting to set up things like Internet, which should not be hard, but have inexplicably taken two weeks are are still not activated correctly. Blergh.

Anyways, throughout this process, writing has fallen woefully aside. Like, extremely woefully. I believe I’ve written approximately 5k over the last 2.5 weeks…and even that is rough guessing and could be wildly off. As you can imagine, the fact that I usually try to stick to a 2k/day 6 days/wk schedule means that having not written significantly in weeks has been driving me nuts. And on top of that, I haven’t felt a burning desire to work on these books. I love them, I think both the books I’ve been working on have potential and I even outlined a really good plot for the YA spies book…but I just haven’t been able to find the drive I usually have for telling a story.

I had two conversations this last week that helped me sort through some of these things, and I want to share them with you so that when you find yourself in a similar situation – because you will, these times of upheaval, confusion, and loss of writing mojo happen to us all – you’ll be able to find your way through it too.

The first conversation I had with a friend, we talked about how much a year can hold. What I realized out of that conversation is that I’ve already written four ms’s this year, and you know, sometimes it can be good to acknowledge that you have done good work and that your brain might be in a place where it needs some resting, some refilling of the well. That happens, it’s a legitimate reason not to write – not just an excuse for being lazy – and it’s important to acknowledge for yourself what you’ve accomplished and know if you need a break before the next thing. So from this conversation I, and hopefully you, can be reminded that writing isn’t like other jobs- it requires spaces and times where you just think, where you toss around ideas, and throw yourself into the world, so that when you do sit down to create words again, they have the heart and soul they need. You can push yourself to create as much as possible, but you need to also acknowledge your own limits and be willing to give yourself that time.

The second conversation I had was with a friend who pointed out that stories have times and places. Who you are when you begin the book is not who you will be when you end it, and sometimes, when you experience a large transition in the middle of a story, you may find that who you become in that split second change is someone who cannot complete that particular story right now, in this place. It doesn’t doom your book, it doesn’t mean you won’t tell that story – it just means right this second, right in this place, is not it. I started both these books in the few leisurely days of hot summer weather at my parents kitchen table in my pajamas. Now, just a month later, trying to write them on the couch in my new and not yet unpacked house after a long day of racing from thing to thing at a brand new job, it shouldn’t be entirely surprising that I can’t quite find those same voices. I’m reluctant to leave these books behind, because every time I’ve left a book I’ve never come back to it, and I love these stories. I don’t want to lose them. But I also know that if I try to force the words onto the page, I’ll have lost the story just the same. I need to trust myself, and the words, and write what fits. If those stories are meant for me, they’ll return. And so will yours.

There is a time and place for everything, my friends, including our words and stories. Be patient with yourself – not letting yourself be lazy, but also building in the time needed to be the best you can – be kind, live well, follow the stories where they take you, and above all, honor the writing and yourself as a writer. Every little thing is going to be okay.

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