Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Erin: The grass is always greener


This is a post that I originally published on my own blog a few days ago. I sat down to write for the Crowe's Nest yesterday and couldn't get any words out because the thoughts discussed in that personal post are still the things I feel most adamantly in this moment. And so I'm sharing that very honest post again, here. Let's get to it:

I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately.

While drafting book two, all I wanted to do was get my copy edits for book one. Book two wasn’t necessarily being problematic, but gosh, this writing this was hard. I’d forgotten how scary the blank page can be. How you are typing the words for the first time and they are often wrong and messy and awkward and in desperate need of polishing. Even though I’d initially been thrilled to start work on TAKEN’s sequel, I suddenly wanted to dive into something less rough. I wanted to refine. I wanted my copy edits so that I could polish book one instead of slogging my way through a messy first draft of book two.

Then my copy edits arrived.

An hour into them, after reading through notes and queries in the margins, approving comma edits and tweaking word choices, I instantly wanted to go back to drafting. When I was writing book two, everything was up to ME. I was in complete control — over the story, the characters, the words, everything. Copy edits were making my brain hurt. They were making me hate every word I originally wrote in book one.

And then I realized…

Only a writer would have this sort of dilemma.

When you are querying, you just want an agent. When you get an agent, you just want a book deal. Once you have the book deal, you want your editorial letter. You’re anxious to move into revisions, and line edits, and copy edits, and cover art, and ARCs, and marketing, and tours, and reviews, and seeing your book on a store shelf. And then you want to sell the next novel, and the next, and repeat the process all over again.

It’s this endless cycle where you’re always looking ahead, to the upcoming milestone. You pine for it. Long for it. Want to speed up time so that you can complete the current phase faster and get to the next one ASAP.

The next step always looks better, shinier, happier. The grass is always greener.

I’ve come to the conclusion that all steps in this process are full of green grass and I just need to stop staring at the lawn ahead of me and look at the lawn right under my feet. Otherwise I’m going to lose my balance and fall flat on my face.

This journey comes with a lot of firsts. I will only do copy edits on TAKEN for the first time once. I will only draft book two in the trilogy once. I will only go through revisions, and a cover design process, and a marketing phase for each book once.

Every single manuscript is unique, therefore making its journey unique from the manuscripts before. Each and every story only happens once.

I think it’s natural to be excited for the upcoming phases of publication because this is all so new and, well…exciting! I’m always over the moon to enter a new step of this process. But I’m also so anxious to move forward, that I wonder if I’m sometimes missing the beauty of the step I’m in.

So I’m trying to slow down. To enjoy my copy edits even when I’m pulling my hair out over comma placements. To appreciate the quiet down time between phases when I’m waiting to hear back from my editor. To be patient while drafting book two, especially when my main character decides to be difficult, when he refuses to tell me what should happen next or how he’d like to react to a given situation. It will come. It always does. The solutions always materialize. The next step always arrives. The clock keeps ticking and the calendar keeps flipping its pages.

The grass is green here and there.

I’m trying to see that. I’m trying to breathe, and pause, and reflect. I’m trying to savor each moment.

Because when I bend down and examine the ground, really, really closely, it’s impossible to ignore the truth: This is pretty freaking awesome. The blades of grass beneath my feet are nothing but the most brilliant shade of lime green: fresh and new. Like Spring and growth and amazing things to come.

I am more grateful than words can accurately express.

Originally posted here.

14 comments:

  1. This is so, so, SO true. Patience and contentment shouldn't always seem so out of reach...this gives some great perspective.

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    1. Thanks, Jenny! It was such an ah-ha moment for me the other day, slogging through copy edits while dreaming about book 2 drafting, when just weeks ago I was longing for it to be the other way around. What a journey this is. I'm trying to appreciate each moment :)

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  2. Congratulations Erin. Personal growth rocks!

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    1. Thanks so much, Adam! I definitely feel I'm in a better mental state now :)

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  3. I'm marking this one as a favorite :-)

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    1. Aw, thanks so much Kay! Glad you liked the post!

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  4. Such an honest--and true--post. Thank you for sharing. :)

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    1. Thank you, Sara. Happy to share, and glad you enjoyed it :)

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  6. Great post, Erin! And I know how you feel!
    I received my editorial notes last week and it can be a hair-raising experience. But this is what it takes to be an author, and it can be a joy if we stop making ourselves anxious over it and just enjoy the ride! Good luck as you finish wrangling those commas!

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  7. I LOVE this! So very great to remember! That grass at our feet is pretty darn sweet.

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  8. Very wise, Erin. I totally agree and it sounds a bit like parenthood too! And I guess like life. Why is it so hard to live in the present?

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