Why Do We Make It So Hard?
What's gone on this week
I've continued my going at home during lunch to write and it has continued to be glorious. I know that this won't always work - either because my work schedule won't allow it or where I am in my writing process demands more time than just a 30 minute block - but while it does I am soaking it up and reveling in the blissful feeling I get afterwards. I'm making good progress on this draft and am on track to finish by the end of September. But the path was not exactly smooth this week.
I struggled with one of the chapter I worked on. It was after a big point of the book - the 3/4 point - and the way forward seemed fairly straightforward so I wasn't expecting it. The words wouldn't flow. I was relieved to get it done and move on but it didn't feel right. So I went back and took another look. Rereading it I realized that the way my main character reacted was wrong. It had made sense in my head when I wrote it. Looking back that and the fact that it was hard to write should have been a warning sign that I was headed the wrong direction.
My instinct is to make it good. Even though I'm writing a first draft, which is supposed to be wobbly and wonky, I want it to be the best I can make it. I'm afraid if it isn't that it means I'm not a good writer. Plus I'm impatient. I've been working on this story for seven years now. Can we please get to the part where it's good and I get it published already? I know this isn't the reason I'm writing it. My desire for it to be published is separate from the thing that drives me to tell this story, or any other. It's so easy to let that get in the way of telling the story. And when it does it gets hard to write.
A wise mentor of mine always reminds me to let the story tell me what it wants to be rather than forcing it to be what I think it should be. Doing that requires letting go of preconceived ideas and worry about whether or not it'll be any good. But once I do that the words come so easy it's almost funny. I know this but I struggle with it almost every time I sit down to write.
Why do I make it so hard when I know it can be easy? I know I'm not the only one to do this, nor is this unique to writers. Is it because we think effort equals quality? So, the more effort (i.e. the harder it is) the better it is. Or is it because we've been taught that if we don't struggle the process isn't worthwhile? Maybe because struggle teaches us things. Regardless I'm here to remind you that none of that is true in the case of creative pursuits. Hard doesn't automatically better. Easy is just as good if not better.
That doesn't mean there won't be parts of the process that won't be hard. Plots that will twist your brain into pretzels. Characters that you can't seem to grasp. Pictures and scenes that you can't find the words to convey. But there are parts that can be easy if you let them. Elizabeth Gilbert posted a 10-step writing school guide on Instagram recently. Number 10 says this - "Be willing to let it be easy. You might be surprised."
I went back and reworked my chapter letting my main character drive. It was easier than I thought it would be and the next chapter is flowing too. So, my mantra for the rest of this draft is let it be easy.
I'm thinking more about redesigning my garden this winter. I've got at least one plant that I want to get rid of, a fuchsia I bought three years ago that refuses to flower, which opens up a spot for a large pot. Most of the pots I use are terracotta. I love the feel of them, but it does limit the size. I live on the second floor in a building with no elevator so everything has to be lugged up the stairs.
The instinct in a small space is to use smaller pots but large pots and plants can actually make a space look bigger. So I'm contemplating going with some bigger plastic pots (not great for the environment but I'm hoping they'll be long lived) to anchor the space and give some of my plants more root room like my clematis and climbing hydrangea. I'd also like to find some space for seed propagation outside. Lots to think about.
I'm looking forward to my fall bulbs arriving. Last year I waited too long to plant them because I wanted to hit a particular bloom time. This year I will be chilling them as soon as they arrive and then putting them into pots in November or December. If that means they bloom early so be it.
What I'm loving lately
I'm still making my way through all the So You Think You Are Intuitive podcast episodes. I find it really inspiring and relaxing. It gets me into the perfect mindset to write since I listen to it in the car on the way home at lunch.
The other day I finished the last of the farmer's market blueberries that I'd frozen from the summer. I love berries and stone fruit and am sad to see them go, but I'm craving baked apples, cinnamon, and other fall tastes. Looking forward to making and eating some of these recipes in the next few months.