by ROSEMARY LORD
Of course, first I scrubbed the kitchen sink, did a load of laundry, sent belated birthday cards, and read a “Be Kind to your Kidneys” article. All essential stuff – when you’re supposed to be writing your current book…
Is it ‘Yak Shaving’ again? For those of you who weren’t there: ‘Yak Shaving’ is when you find yourself doing something as irrelevant as shaving a yak (don’t ask!), instead of the goal you set out to accomplish. MIT student Carlin Vieri invented the term and blogger Seth Gordon, explained, “the seemingly unrelated, endless series of small tasks that have to be completed before the next step in a project can move forward.” Hmmm.
Don’t get me wrong. I have increased my writing accomplishments ten-fold.
I started a strange mystery about a young, dark-haired girl (so not autobiographical!) in London climbing out of a window to escape… you get the gist. I’ve written many pages of another new mystery set in a small, Greek coastal village. A 60-year-old widow returns to the site of her honeymoon, hoping to find some direction in her life – but finds mayhem instead…I wonder where that ideal came from? Perhaps I should go back and do some more research in that village. What a great idea! Then there’s a World War Two mystery – only six pages done on that one. I’m also still fiddling with my Lottie Topaz Book Two. I’ve written several chapters, know where I’m going – I thought. But the rest is still foggy. So, I took Jackie Vick’s advice and moved away from that book to focus on another project. All these other new storylines. She’s right about the insights you get as you write the draft of another book. Answers to the one you were stuck on filter through whilst writing the next.
As you can see, I’m all over the place. I share this with my fellow writers and readers, not as a cry for help. Well maybe a smidge. More as a warning. Don’t do as I do!
When I see what fellow blogger Linda Johnson accomplishes – she’s a prolific novelist, meeting deadlines with her strict writing schedules. Gayle Pool, Jill Amadio and Miko Johnson all do it. And Jacki H. continues to promote all of us and write children’s stories, as well.
I ask myself, what is wrong with me? I know better. I think I’m missing a gene…
Sometimes I feel like Sisyphus – the Greek Mythology, evil sinner Sisyphus was condemned to an eternity of pushing a boulder up a mountain. Once he got to the top, the weight of the boulder forced it to start rolling down to the bottom, wherein he had to start again. According to Albert Camus, the Greek gods felt that there is no more dreadful punishment than this futile and hopeless labor for Sisyphus. Hmmm.
So, I’ll stop whining! I think this is the way writers’ lives go – seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of distractions.
Stephen King said of writers: “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work.” And I’m certainly not afraid of hard work. Just sometimes need a push in the right direction to get over that hump!
When you think of it, we’re really lucky. This is what we choose to do: write. Yes, most of us have ‘day jobs’ – other ways to survive, whilst we feed our muses. Or they feed us. I think most of us have managed several careers – often simultaneously. Which become wonderful sources of material for our writing. And I can’t complain.
It’s not as if we have to study for years, as doctors, nurses and medical professionals do in order to improve and save people’s lives. Or go through really tough, brutal training and then, literally, put ones’ life on the line every day as our police officers and military do, in order to protect us all.
We sit at our computers – or with pad and pen – and spill our imaginations onto the page. We aim to entertain, to educate, to inspire, to elevate people’s lives and show them different possibilities – escape into other worlds. Or perhaps just to make them laugh. Everyone needs to laugh. Charlie Chaplin said, “A day without laughter is a day wasted.” And then some of us write because we just want to.
And so I get back to the writing. To the completion of writing. Of getting unstuck and moving forward with all the storylines and characters coursing through my brain and – sometimes – tumbling out onto the written page. Hooray!
Fortunately, I’m not alone. As very successful and prolific author M.C. Beaton – author of the Hamish Macbeth and the Agatha Raisin series – once said when asked her worst habit – “Procrastination!” she replied. Yay! There’s hope for me yet! The interview continued with her philosophy: “Stop projecting. Tomorrow’s a mystery. This is not a rehearsal. I’m on stage now.” Although my favorite was her answer was to the question, “What do you collect?” M.C.’s immediate response: “Dust. I’m a lousy housekeeper.”
Thankfully, after this cathartic Blog, I’m ready to get going again. Move to the next stage. Be disciplined. Finish one book before moving on to the next. Get going.
Someone once said, “Move forward. Aim high. Plan a takeoff. Don’t just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won’t happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you’ll love it up here. “
I’m ready for my take off. How do you get unstuck and move forward?