I have a wee bit of a confession. The book I have long promised isn’t going to be here any time soon. Currently life is difficult. I’d love to open up and share what’s going on that is so tough, but it’s not wholly my story to tell. Our family is trying to help with the mental health challenges of a loved one and it’s a rocky road. The stress is high, folks. This particular crisis has been going on since November and I’m a bit frayed at the edges. The creativity meter is in the red and has been for a while.
Advice, I’ve been given a healthy amount, all of it sound. It hasn’t helped. Stress has a way of burning through all good intentions, practices, and habits. I’ve found myself at the keyboard, fingers at the ready, but mind in disarray. And well-meaning suggestions to write my way through it? Frustrating, when I can’t seem to string more than a few lines together.
In all honesty, life has been complex for longer than this current crisis and my writing has suffered. I’ve been working on the new book for the better part of a year and I just can’t pull it together. I know that I need to get new work out there and I’m blowing it. With that tension comes more stress and then the guilt. Ah… such a great feeling (sarcasm font). I made it through NaNoWriMo by writing whatever came to mind, whether the scene worked or not. I wrote multiple beginnings for the same book, changed whole plot lines without deleting the others. I got to 50k, but it was ugly and the product has proved un-editable.
For months all I’ve been able to accomplish is a few pages here and there. The book is in my brain, scenes occasionally floating up, forming, and then dissipating like fog. Finding time to write isn’t the problem. What’s elusive is making the space for the story in the front of my thoughts so I can get them out of my brain and into my computer. My front-most thoughts are cluttered with worst-case scenarios, or plans for how to make everything better for everyone, heal the chaos, put out the fires, mend the wounds.
The way I deal with a crisis is to make plans, strategize, find solutions, organize the chaos, but with this, I can’t. I am in the car, but definitely not in the driver’s seat. I know that it’s in God’s hands. If only I could trust that and be at peace. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.
All the romanticism around the act of writing a book would lead one to believe a writer can form a world, characters, and plot lines by following her heart or believing in her dreams. Malarkey. Writing is work. Inspiration is great, imagination is a must, but skill is needed to take those fluffy, diaphanous, elusive ideas and form them into a good book. I’ve read that getting an idea down on the page is like nailing Jello to a tree. I’d say that’s pretty accurate. And writing involves emotional energy as well as physical. Mine is painfully low.
With that said, I’m not giving up. I’m still here at the keys, still forming those scenes in my head and wrestling them onto the page. It’s slow going. I hope you can be patient and stick with me. I’ve got some great characters fighting to make it to the page. I’m learning to let go and have faith that God is provident. It’s a work in progress. Refiner’s fire, am I right? And if you’re struggling right now, God bless you. You are not alone. There’s a big ol’ crowd of us in it with you, still showing up at work, or school, and church too, despite feeling ragged and worn. Our Creator has us in His hands. We just need to believe it.