It’s all about the equipment

Photo credit: Greg Rakozy | @grakozy | Unsplash

This winter, Edmonton has experienced an unseasonable amount of balmy temperatures. So much so, the dog park has a thin ice warning at its entrance. Plus, dog walkers are walking with icers (spikes) on their feet as the combination of temperatures and wind makes for an ice rink rather than a snowy trail.

As I watch some of the walkers slip, slid, and shiver their way down the main path, I’m reminded of how important the proper equipment can be. Snow boots, mitts, thermals, etc. It’s amazing how the proper coat can turn dog walking from a chore into an activity you don’t want to end.

Writing, I feel, is the same way. The successful writer knows whether they best work with pen and paper, as opposed to keyboard and screen, whether they enjoy plotting via apps or index cards. No matter what the physical equipment, I can’t help but think that the mental equipment is what’s *really* necessary.

For me, it’s patience, understanding the industry will be difficult and heartbreaking (so don’t take it too hard when it’s difficult and heartbreaking), persistence, and a band of brothers—writers/friends/family who uplift me when the going gets tough and cheer me on when it’s a smooth ride.

No matter if you’re a panster or a plotter, a write-by-hand or a write-by-screen, make sure you give your metaphorical closet a good look, and ensure you have the right equipment inside.

*Twiddles Thumbs*

I just finished my latest manuscript, YA Contemporary, and it’s with my crit group. So far, it seems to be passing the read test, which is grand because it’s a different book than what I usually write…

But now I’m left at odds and ends. I’ve got some research for kids’ book, edits for a middle-grade, another middle-grade that needs drafting. It’s a full plate of work on my desk, and that doesn’t even take into account the administration side of it…common sense says to take today to do so
mething less writerly before diving into a new story. To take a breath and step away, or else I’ll drag the tone/voice of the YA into whatever I’m doing…Decouple, just like the train cars…

BUT I have all this energy for *writing,* so now I don’t know what to do…I don’t want to twiddle my thumbs, but I also don’t want to waste my energy…which probably means I’m going to have to clean out my closet. Literally. That always seems to sort through the muddling in my brain, and shows me the path to take…

Wow, wow, and more wow

Lark Holds the Key & Across the Floor are starred selections with the CCBC Spring Edition, and Gatekeeper hit #3 on the YEG bestsellers. And to think of all the times—all the times—when I was one breath away from giving up because it seemed hopeless and useless, and that I was kidding myself. I am so grateful, so incredibly grateful to all those people who came into my life and encouraged me to keep going. These accolades are theirs, as much as they are mine.

Ummm, what?

Reading a book on how to write (when at a loss, go back to the well, right?), & the author says to set goals, then gives an example, “Have a book traditionally published by 2018.”

And then I put the book down.

I’m sorry, that’s not a goal. A goal is something YOU can accomplish. YOU can choose *if* you finish the manuscript, and YOU can choose *when* you submit, YOU can even choose the people to whom you submit, BUT YOU CANNOT choose if your book gets published because that’s not in your decision, it’s someone else’s. At the point your goal hinges on someone else, it ceases to be a goal. If any of us had the ability to control someone else’s choices and actions, well, I’m just saying there would be a lot more chocolate on my plate when my husband cooks dinner.

The Long & Winding Road

Maria Stiehler | Unsplash

January 11, 2017, and this is not where I thought I would be. I had an idea for a novel, had the general outline, and intended to start writing in October. The schedule was too busy, no problem, November.

*Except* when November came, I hit the writing road the way I always do. Flat on my face. Splat. I couldn’t get the first pages to work. So I wrote and deleted and wrote again…and got 10 pages that were passable and workable.

Sent it off to my publisher and said, “What do you think?”

“Great! Looking forward to the rest of the novel!”

*Except* those pages don’t work. At least, not for the start of the novel.

More writing, more deleting.

In the meantime, I’m trying not to panic as November rolls into December, and December ticks down to January. I know writing is a winding road. I know there are millions of stops and starts, but all I could see was time counting down.

On a good day, I can get in 8-10 pages. Those days saw me at 150 words or less. And still I wrote, and still I deleted.

Today, I’ve got 30,000 words deleted and 358 words written. I’m trying not to panic, not to give into frustration, to just concentrate, let the writing be the writing, and put one foot in front of the other and see where the writing road takes me.