Patience, Progress, Perspective

I am not a patient person.

I sometimes wish that I was patient, but I’ve learned not to pray for patience. Because in my experience, God doesn’t give you patience. He teaches you patience. Which is a very different (and terrifically uncomfortable) thing.

This year’s experiment of trying to write a book every month has been about many things, one of them my lack of patience. Partly, it was to build the habit of writing on a regular and sustained basis. Partly, it was about making up for lost time.

At 40, I’m feeling very much like I am running way behind. I spent my 30s working out personal stuff and building a successful career. And once I started fiction writing again, it felt like everybody else was at least 3-5 years ahead of me. I especially envied the people who jumped into the ebook/self-publishing waters when they were considerably warmer.

Now I know what it felt like for all the people who jumped into social media years after I did. It sucks. It feels like you missed the boat and you can’t ever catch up.

So yes, some of this year’s experiment was about trying to feel less hopelessly left behind.

Also, I’ve experienced a lot of loss in the last ten years. My mom died on her 51st birthday. She didn’t know it but “mid life” for her was twenty-five. I don’t feel like I have the luxury of unlimited time. I think that my increased awareness of my own mortality has probably not helped with the whole “feeling like I’m running out of time” thing.

Plus, I tend to learn things best by total immersion. I dive in, go full-tilt, and I tend to learn faster than many people. In that sense, I feel like this year so far has been a raging success. I feel like my brain is going to explode at times, but I also feel like I’ve learned so much in a relatively short period.

In looking at my progress this year, I don’t know if I feel caught up exactly, but I no longer feel hopelessly left behind. I don’t feel like I’ve failed before I even start, just because I didn’t start five years ago. I feel like I can breathe.

I’ve been getting the perspective of people I trust. I’ve been reading the few completely objective reviews that have been trickling in for my books from people I don’t know.

So I’m letting myself off the hook. No, that’s not quite right. I’m letting the people who care about me, and care about my writing, let me off the hook.

I’m listening to the people who are telling me, with great love, to stop beating the crap out of myself. That it’s okay to slow down a little. That the world will not end, and I will not spend another 20 years not writing, if I don’t hit “Publish” on a new book by the 30th of the month. That the best thing I can do for my stories is to start setting them aside for a few weeks, let them and me rest, and then go back to them with fresh eyes a few times.

So this is the new plan. I’m currently drafting Gilded Locks. When it’s done, I’m not going to hit publish. I’m going to give it a few weeks to rest, and then go back and do a thorough edit. It’ll probably still be out in 2013.

Belle Starr 3: A Pair of Aces is roughly plotted. I’ll most likely draft it in December, so it probably won’t be out until 2014.

I’m still not 100% sure what I’m going to be writing in November, but I will be doing National Novel Writing Month. Heck, it feels like I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for most of a year already. Might as well do one last sprint before I slow down.

Thanks for following along on this silly journey. 🙂 I pray you find the grace to let yourselves off whatever needless hooks you’re twisting on right now.

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