Today I shipped a hard copy of my novel (Riveted) off to a professional editor in LA. I’m excited, and terrified, and excited. I’m excited because it’s my first time working with a professional editor and I’m thrilled to see what she can do to help my writing improve. And I’m terrified because it’s my first time working with a professional editor and a little part of me worries that she will just stand up, point at me and yell “You suck!”. Intellectually I know she won’t yell at me. After all she patiently explained her role and the editing process, none of which involved yelling and pointing. But sadly, as I’ve known for some time, the intellectual part of my brain doesn’t always have the steering wheel. To combat my fear I’m trying to concentrate on the good:
- Professional feedback will make my writing better.
- The editor came highly recommended by an agent I respect (and hope to win a relationship with).
- There is totally no way I could hear her yelling all the way from LA. (My super power has nothing to do with hearing. But now you’re totally wondering aren’t you?)
Letting go of my worries, and not letting the irrational part of my brain take over is something I’ve been working on for a while now and yesterday I had an epiphany that I think will really help.
I don’t control the future.
I can only control the now;
but I can control all the nows.
And happiness is knowing that the nows build my future.
I like control. I like knowing what comes next and planning for the future. But as a writer I must constantly remind myself that now is the most important time. I can have plans and timelines for myself and my work. I can plot and plan for a story arc, but my best writing usually comes when I let my characters take me an an adventure I hadn’t planned. I love it when at the end of a writing session I can honestly say I was surprised by what my characters said or did. Whether I’m writing a historical fiction, a modern tale or something that takes place well past the end of my life expectancy, I do best when I join my characters in the now. Tomorrow is for edits and timeline consistency. Now is for creating and enjoying the future I’m building with each moment of now. So, message to me: “If it’s true about your writing, it’s probably true about your life.”
List five things you are grateful for right now. No, I mean it right now. Get out a paper and pen and list them. For example, I’m grateful:
- It is sunny today.
- My cat forgave me for giving her a pill this morning.
- The carrot soup I made turned out well.
- My PMS is finally at an end for another month. (Sorry for the over-share.)
- My husband is due home tonight from his business trip so I won’t have to sleep alone.
Gratitude and recognition of the little things in life is important, but it can also be a great tool for your writing. The things we are grateful for are often also the things that inspire us. Now take another look at your list and choose one item from it to use as a writing subject. Sit down and spend five minutes writing why you are grateful for that thing. Was there a time you didn’t have it? Did you work hard to achieve it? Is it one of life’s simple pleasures…or do you just really love a good carrot soup?
Now spend five minutes thinking about how a character in your writing would react if they did not have what you are grateful for. What if it suddenly came into their lives? Or if you prefer, consider a character that had it and then had it taken away for some reason. Then write. Take ten minutes, live in the now and ask that character to take you on an unplanned adventure.
And for those interested in a really kicking good Carrot Ginger soup:
- 4 large carrots
- 1/2 large red onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup canned corn (drained)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tsp ginger powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp Splenda
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Boil carrots until they are soft (not mushy). Chop onions and garlic. Combine the carrots, 2.5 cups of water (preferably the water you boiled the carrots in), onions, garlic corn and spices in a soup pan. Boil until the onions are soft. Remove from heat, blend roughly with a wand blender. (You may have to add more water later as it thickens.)
Simple but amazing, and even better the next day.