This is the Year

This is the year I’ll finish my book. I’m seeing, and encouraged by, the realization that this is also the year I have arrived at a couple of major decisions for my life, decisions as long time coming as this book.

I have been working on this novel since before my mother’s death. Good heavens–since early 2017. That year I was holding on to a shredded rope of my life during a number of hard but glorious years of soul-building, revolving around my son and grandchildren growing and my mother preparing to leave this earth. I turned once again to novel writing to save my sanity. I remember listening to the nurse with my mother downstairs, as I retreated to the cozy nook in my office, with pen and yellow tablet. I set to writing something funny to entertain myself. Once started I continued in a haphazard manner for several years. Finally I sent it to my agent, and she turned it down flat. Thank goodness! It was a mess, as I was. But I kept coming back to the writing, engaged a skilled editor for feedback, and have in the two years since persevered through two total re-writes. With the perspective of time, I see it is the writing that has helped me to arrive now on solid ground.

I am at the ending of the book, shaping and winding up the story lines. I’m quaking. I have reached this point twice before and not been able to write the ending. The taunts of the inner critic plague me.

After weeks of taking a break for camping and Christmas celebrating, I prepared for this week to be the week I apply myself and get to work. Monday was the day, but last week I already sank that because I elected to drive my grandson to a doctor appointment. Time with grandson will sweep thoughts of writing aside every time. Besides, Mondays are always busy. Tuesday would be a much better day to settle on the project.

Ha! Have you read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art? If you have, you know what happened. I set my intention and Resistance swooped in like a giant flying monkey wrench. I wouldn’t doubt that my strong intention to get working on the book caused the entire debacle, to use my son’s wording. At Monday’s doctor appointment, Grandson was pronounced with a possible vertebra fracture and for two days everyone was thrown into high worry and navigating the convoluted medical establishment, phone calls flying and contradicting advice. Thankfully the ending of it all came out well (specialist says no fracture, although one does wonder) by Tuesday afternoon, although there is a part of me that feels somewhat like I stuck my finger in a live electric light socket.

But on Tuesday, in the midst of the storm, I wrote! Not until noon, and until I’d made a decision to request someone else handle a responsibility (I am learning differently!), and until a friend encouraged me, “Okay, settle now and write.”

This morning I read great encouragement from Steven Pressfield’s blog post entitled “It’s Very Well Typed.” He tells his journey from the writing of his first novel. I so identify with what he writes–oh, yes, there’s that voice inside yelling louder and louder as I try to write the ending, as I struggle with completion: “Quit, quit! It doesn’t make sense, it’s stupid, you can’t do this.”

I’ve always had that voice, throughout the writing of every novel that I have written. I’ve had the voice and circumstances plague my writing, but I got the books written, and so often people have told me the books gave them enjoyment and helped them in some way. It was all God, of course. Most of the time back then, I couldn’t see this, but now I can, and that is my answer to the voice now. “I’m going to finish, as this is what I am to do.”

As Pressfield points out, the satisfaction, the relief, the sense of having done what one is meant to do, is the main thing. Finishing the race, as St. Paul said.

My job is to do the work. Finish the book. What becomes of the book is up to God.

So I say to myself, and now I’ve said it publicly: “This is the year I’ll finish the book.”

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