It’s not too late to join the book club’s discussion of MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD (see previous post)! Right now I have Marcelo in the back of my mind as I consider life’s challenges.
Back in December, I had big plans for my novel’s second draft. I planned to spend January and February (and possibly March) working to polish the draft to a brilliant shine. When I was perfectly happy with it, I would send the novel to my critique partners and receive their valuable feedback—the ultimate reward for all my hard work.
That is how I write in my fantasy world.
I didn’t actually start on my second draft until mid-January, when I had slowed down from the holiday whirl. In February I was sick for nearly three weeks. On the days I felt well, I struggled with distractions and doubt. The second draft battled me for every word.
That is how I write in the real world.
Like everything in life, writing rarely goes as planned. The trick is telling the difference between real obstacles and imaginary ones.
I’m sure this differs for everyone . . . but for me, real obstacles are what I put before writing. Writing is probably third on my list of priorities, after God and family/friends. That doesn’t mean I devote 100% of my time to God, family, and friends. It means I try to stay true to them above all, and if possible, write at the end of the day (or sometimes in the middle of the day!).
There are times when my family and friends need me, and times when I need to focus on God or take care of my health. I don’t believe writing should be the number one priority for anyone. Make it a healthy habit for the rest of your life, not an obsession that will soon burn you out.
Imaginary obstacles are the excuses I make when I don’t want to write. I’m tired. I want to read a book instead. I deserve a night off. This story is terrible. I’ll never get published. Why do I even bother?
How do you know if your lack of writing is “meant to be” or the result of excuses? As Marcelo would say, “The right note sounds right.” When I make excuses, deep down I feel guilty. When I tend to higher priorities, I accept the inevitable . . . but I’m always ready to start writing again when the time is right.
The newest obstacle in my real world: I start a job on March 16th. Just a temporary job with the Census Bureau, six weeks long at the most. But do you think I’ll get any writing done while being a fulltime census taker and fulltime mom? Um, no. Not even in the fantasy world do I expect that to happen!
I’m happy about the job, and grateful to help provide for my family. But part of me is also disappointed. I now plan to stop my second draft in mid-March, and I will not be satisfied with it. It will not be shiny when I send it to Syd and Ellie, that promising event I’ve been waiting for.
But you know what? I’ll get over it.
I should look on the bright side. Syd will be able to read the story before her baby comes, Ellie can read it on her own schedule, and their suggestions will guide me in the third draft. I’ll have a break from writing before I dive back in with renewed excitement.
The obstacles of the real world happen for a reason—at least, that’s what I choose to believe. Obstacles create stronger people and better writers. They teach us patience and persistence. They make our successes so much sweeter.
Don’t let obstacles stop you from writing. Make plans, but be flexible when they change. Do the best you can with what you’re given.
Make your fantasy a reality.