I wrote every day during the month of January. Thirty-one days in a row, some words on Grace every single one of them. I want to take a moment to pat myself on the back and say, “good job, self, good job,” but instead, my brain demands to know how in the world I have not finished writing this book yet. Not yet 7AM, still dark, and I have already spent twenty minutes or so beating myself up.
It’s not like I’m trying to write the great American novel or anything deep and literary. I’m not worrying about symbolism or all those poetic terms I can’t remember the names of. It’s just a fun romantic ghost story. I’m not even obsessed with editing perfection! I let sentences end in prepositions. I use fragments and run-ons! I even, horror of horrors, put multiple exclamation points on the same page yesterday!! (They belong there, though. Or at least I was pretty sure yesterday that they belonged there. I might change my mind this morning.)
I suspect my big mistake of several years ago was in starting to read about writing. I wanted to improve. That was part of my million word goal, to get better and better and at the end of writing a million words, decide whether or not I wanted to try to write for a living. But I think the more I learned about writing — not grammar and punctuation, of course, but about telling a story and building characters and creating a good plot, the harder it got for me to write. All that reading is where my story-telling went wrong.
Many years ago, I had a co-worker who would remind us that it wasn’t brain surgery, “it” being whatever work thing had us stressed out. The point wasn’t that our work was easy in comparison (although it was, obviously), but that no lives depended on what we were doing. I should make that one of my imaginary inspirational posters and remind myself of it steadily. No lives depend on me getting the story right.
The worst part is, of course, that it’s actually a whole lot easier to write fast and to not revise. I constantly have to go back and version check while I’m writing — have I said this in this version? Is this how this works this time around? It’s taken me so long that I forget what I wrote and even more, I forget what changes I’ve made.
But enough whining. February goal: to write every day, to write a lot every day, to finish this book and start the next one. A friend read A Lonely Magic last night and was messaging me until late in the night. She wants the sequel and I’d really like to write it — for her, for me, for the other people who cared. I also was asked last week about an audio version of Ghosts, so I want to create that. I also want to finish Grace, do my taxes, go to yoga three times a week, paint my bathroom, walk the dogs every day, eat healthily, and win the lottery. The only one of those things that’s impossible is the last. (I never buy lottery tickets. Too cheap!)
Apparently February 1 is the new New Year’s for me. Filled with resolutions and resolve! But onward and upward, right?