I’ve been working on a fiction piece for….for a long time. Maybe longer than I care to admit.
I began armed with a little inspiration, and a knowledge of the writing craft based only on my own reading preferences. No training, no experience, no knowledge of the industry. I just wrote.
As I muddled through, I fell in love with the art of crafting scenes, laughed at my earliest writing mistakes, and thrilled when I sensed my rewrites bringing my writing skill to a new level. Oh yeah, and cried over cups of coffee as I began new rewrites wondering why I was doing this to myself.
There wasn’t much pressure when I started. The experience of writing that first draft was a little love story between my Heavenly Father and me. Now, I have a deadline to get my writing to a certain caliber, that though I’ve set it myself, I can’t change it.
Just when I think I’m close to being where I want to be, words from a critique partner will give me a fresh perspective, and I will see another way to improve. Sometimes that inspires me, sometimes it makes me want to serve myself a big slice of pity cake with an ice cold glass of despair.
My little pity party goes a little like this: I’m never going to be finished in time. There are too many inherent problems with this novel. Maybe I should shelve it and start a fresh story armed with the things I’ve already learned. Maybe its time to quit this piece before I waste any more time.
But I won’t quit. Not yet. Not because I think this story will make a major bestseller list if I hang on a little longer, but because it still has room to teach me as a writer. If I am learning, I’m not wasting time. And maybe it will go somewhere. Maybe I long to back away because I’m pushing myself to a new frontier, and I’m scared to step out there.
We live our lives like a novice writer, learning as we go. Mistakes are made while more experienced people look on and shake their heads. No matter our age, we come to points in our lives where we wonder “What have I done?” Like a literary work in progress, life gets messy with its wrong turns and broken pieces. We wish we could go back and start over now that we are wiser, and create a cleaner copy minus the scribbles and edit notes.
There are occasions that are appropriate for cutting losses and starting over. A point will come in which I will have to let go, and stop trying to make my novel better. It might be a scenario in which I make myself release it to the world, or release it to my shelf because its worthy purpose was to simply teach me to write.
In this world of disposable living, we have a tendency to scrap things too quickly. Careers, marriages, friendships, projects. What might happen if we stick with it through the messy season? We know what happens to the things we quit, nothing. But what if that hill you climb isn’t a sign you should stop before things get harder, but it’s preparing you for a new level? What if you press through instead of turn around? What if?
Funny. I just realized this very theme is what lies under the entire premise of my novel. What if you hold on when ever rational thought tells you there is nothing worth saving?
Thanks Lord. Somehow the similarity of my current mental battle to one of my story’s underlying themes gives me a sense of peace. No matter my doubts, God knows what he is doing with me and this novel. I’ll be faithful to keep trucking along with it until he tells me to stop. He’s the one I wrote it for, after all.
Maybe you’ve been contemplating stepping out and starting something new, and haven’t because your afraid you’ll waste your time. Here is a message from the Queen of Risk Avoidance: Just Start. Even if you don’t end up where you thought you were headed, you’ll learn something if you’re open to it.
Maybe you want to scrap something because it is getting too hard. From someone limping along feeling feeble-hearted herself: Hang on. Wait and find out what the view looks like from the top of the mountain. Don’t make the decision to quitin the middle of the climb, get a clear view first.
Your life is a beautiful story. Keep moving through the mess, the depression, the false starts, the over-thinking, the brokenness, the fear. Keep pressing through. Your story is one that the world needs to hear.