When I make art, I have to keep reminding myself not to be afraid, especially of making mistakes. I constantly tell myself to let go: let go of fear, let go of what other people think, let go of expectations. Sometimes it works, but sometimes it doesn't. When it works, I feel calm, relaxed, fulfilled. When it doesn't, I feel anxious, frustrated and incomplete. To make a piece of art work, I cannot hold onto parts that are precious to me, parts I worked on for hours. I've also learned that occasionally what I thought was a mistake turned out to be a fortuitous moment. Writing is exactly the same, but I have to apply what I know from painting/sculpture to act of making stories. Writing is simply another form of art.
I haven't posted for a week because of a major crisis. Last week, I was rewriting in No Need to Wait... When I change a chapter, I create a new document so that I can cut, paste, rewrite, amend, change, add, subtract, edit, fix, arrange, and revise to my heart's content. Once I settle on the new version of a chapter, I cut it and paste it into the original work. Feel the foreshadowing?
I selected "all" in the main document, added the new chapter and hit save. I had an inkling I had done something wrong when the process, which is usual instantaneous, took about 30 seconds. Indeed, I had mistakenly selected the whole book, not the chapter. I lost everything, including all the revisions I had done in the past two weeks, but the one revised chapter I had just completed. Did you hear the scream? If you'd been listening, you would have.
I thought of Maxine Kingston. The story I heard was she had finished a manuscript, printed it off, and readied it to mail to her publisher. She left the new born book on her desk, safely wrapped in a mailer and went out for a while. The Oakland fire broke out. I'm sure she tried to get back to her house, but the fire department wouldn't allow it. She wasn't able to return to rescue her book or the computer (these were not the days of the cloud). She lost everything. I can't imagine what she felt.
Anyway, I know all you computer savvy people would have known how to recover. I didn't. Instead, I went back to the most recent copy I had and started a piecemeal revision. It's back together. but I am mentally exhausted. I've sent it off to Katie to do her magic.
Every time I've written before, I've tried to make the sentence structure perfect. I wrote in complete sentences with proper grammar, punctuation and spelling. In No Need to Wait,
I had to keep telling myself using slang, fragments, unsupported "it" and "there" was okay. Breaking rules was a struggle for me. The English teacher in me cringed with every fragment I wrote. Slowly, I realized fiction is not an essay, and an essay does make good fiction.
The next big hurdle was not using swear words. But, a cozy mystery is cozy not "cursed." The difficulty was not allowing the men to swear on a golf course It seemed unnatural, but either I found a way or Katie did. I suspect Katie had less difficulty than I did. I tend to have a potty mouth.
I'll write about more hurdles as I think about them. Thanks for reading.