At some point, I’m going to sit back and think about what I’ve learned from Grace. I’m not sure yet what it is. Not to have too many characters? Not to let side characters steal the show? To stick to an outline instead of abandoning it? To put more time into planning? Except I put a ton of time into planning with Grace. I thought I knew exactly where I was going, I just could never figure out how to get there.
I think probably the most important thing for me is that I really need to stop overthinking. I never considered plot or structure or character arcs with Ghosts and it’s entertaining nonetheless. And A Lonely Magic was a seven-week whirlwind where I never knew what was coming next and I adore it. Somehow the “write like mad without too much thinking” is my best strategy, I just need to figure out how to do it successfully without letting myself get turned around too much.
So yes, still working on Grace, finally starting to see a little forward movement instead of spinning my wheels. I don’t even know what revision I would call this now, maybe seven? And, of course, this is all before my usual multiple revision rounds that are edit rounds, not rewrites. Ah, well. I persevere! (It’s a character strength. :))
I’m persevering on the house, too. It’s not yet 10AM and I’ve checked off another item on the to-do list, namely clean and paint the trim on the patio. While I was at it, I wandered around to the front and touched up some of the trim out there and discovered — ridiculously belatedly — that the trim around the new windows by the door (sidelights, they’re called) was light blue. Seriously, what planet have I been on for the past month? I was berating myself for my lack of observational skills while I painted the blue white, to go with the rest of the trim, but then I realized, or maybe remembered, that I actually have excellent observational skills, as long as what I’m observing is people. Trim color does not interest me, not even when it’s on my own house, which is why I shouldn’t be a homeowner anymore. People do.
That said, when I was sitting on the patio, semi-admiring my work and mostly comforting a stressed-out dog who really wanted to be in my lap, I also did some good observing of the way the sunlight passes through my backyard neighbor’s bamboo. It’s seriously beautiful. Something about the way the light gets broken and the bamboo sways makes it alive. The light that is, not the bamboo, which is, of course, obviously alive. It’s magical. I tried to take a picture, but I’m a lousy photographer. I couldn’t capture it at all. Well, or maybe my iPhone was not the best camera for the job.
I did take a picture of Zelda, though, to commemorate the occasion.
Zelda, taking a nap on her dog bed
What occasion, you ask? Well, we’ve owned that dog bed for years, and she never, ever uses it. It’s where Bartleby curled up the day he wandered into my backyard, but neither of them spend time there. I decided to throw it away, since it’s got a hole in it (presumably put there by the now-unhappy mouse that was living behind the now-gone granite countertops that had been sitting on the patio since my kitchen remodel.) I intended to drag it out to the curb for the trash guys, but got distracted by the bamboo, and what do I see when I turn around?
Perhaps expressing her opinion of all this chaos.
When I started this blog post I had something specific I was going to write about and it wasn’t Grace and it wasn’t Zelda and I have no idea what it was. Maybe fear? I’ve been thinking a lot about fear lately, good fear and bad fear, and optimism and faith. Fear is an emotion that people want to dismiss quickly, one way or another. Either it’s, “oh, you’ll be fine, you’ve got nothing to be afraid of” or it’s, “then don’t do the thing that scares you.” I feel like neither of those is the right answer.
I think some fear keeps me alert but also lets me know that I’m doing something exciting. A little good fear — not anxiety, but fear — keeps me present and focused. On the other hand, anxiety is the bad fear. Anxiety is when the fear starts spiraling into worry and becomes irrational. I’m trying very hard to stay present in my life and not let the anxiety take over. It’s trying, some days more than others. But as long as I can see that, I think I can beat it.
That’s the optimism and faith speaking. Or maybe the character strength of hope? I’m often truly scared about the future that I’m heading toward. What if I get sick? What if the dogs get sick? How will I deal with X, Y, Z? But whenever I get too focused on those what-ifs, I take a step back, and look at the day I’m in. What can I do to make today better? And what can I do today to make my tomorrows better? The answers to those questions are so much easier than the answers to the what-ifs. Right now, the answer is “stop writing a blog post and write Grace instead!” So off I go.
What can you do to make your today better?