Sunday, May 22, 2016

Enjoying the Journey

Here’s a riddle for you: How is writing a novel like taking a vacation?

I can almost see writers reading that question and scratching their heads, wondering if I’ve lost my mind. Because writing is hard work, certainly not a walk on the beach. But the answer is: They’re both journeys.

       You plot a novel much the same way you plan a vacation. There are lots of decisions to make and definitely some research to do.

You spend a long time writing/editing a novel. Compare that to the time it takes you to travel to your vacation spot.

You finish the book! You’ve arrived at your vacation destination!

In both cases, it's easy to get so focused on the end result that we forget to enjoy the journey. We all have bumps in the road, situations that are beyond our control that make us wonder if we'll ever "get there." 

I’ve been working on my fifth Malone mystery since last June when Mistaken Identity, the fourth book in the series, was published. However, there was a three-month period of time when there was absolutely no time to write. Long story short, I was living with my eighty-six year old mother when she made the decision to try to sell her house. She listed the house early last October and it sold in five days! Suddenly, I had a whole house to pack up and two apartments to find and I needed to live as close as possible to my mother.

By the grace of God (and I’m serious about that because I may be a plotter and a planner but I could never have orchestrated what happened next), I found two apartments across the hall from one another in a four-family senior building not far from Mom’s house. So, for the next three months, I packed, unpacked and organized both apartments. In January, I was finally able to “get back on the horse.”

It felt good to be writing again but, about a month ago, I began to get impatient. I’m a book a year writer and I was way behind the schedule I had set for myself. I was very frustrated and, although I normally jump out of bed in the morning eager to write, I found myself looking for excuses to postpone opening the Word document for my book. I spent more time on Facebook, etc. than I did writing. And, I stayed in that mode for several days, silently (and sometimes not so silently) berating myself. Forget the three month lapse. Surely, I’d dropped the ball somewhere or I’d be further along.

Then, one day, it hit me – I had stopped enjoying the process of writing and become too focused on finishing the book, which wasn’t good for the book or for me. I decided to change the way I was thinking. Of course, I was (and am) looking forward to typing "The End" (and I’m getting close) but, by cutting myself some slack and taking it one day at a time, I’m once again enjoying all phases of the journey.