The ‘Oh’ Moment

For a month or so back there I got absolutely nothing book-related done. I tried. Believe me, I tried. After several false-starts on my revision I was about ready to throw the whole damn thing away. So I had an unintentional writing holiday and felt really crappy about it. If only Margo Lanagan had guest blogged for Justine Larbalester back in the dark days of no writing! Because Margo’s post is about the necessity for "fallow time", to recharge your batteries and let your subconscious work on things. She argues that it isn’t about problem solving, but it certainly solved some problems for me!

To illustrate how whiny and panicked I became while not writing here is a post I wish I’d never written on a board I frequent:

"How do you know when your novel is just too terrible to bother revising? Most writers have practice novels, right? How do you know if this is one of them – if you should just move on to the next story with the skills you acquired in the writing of the first?
It’s just so discouraging to focus on all the bad bits of the novel. It’s getting hard to see the good bits anymore."

The clues are right there in my post on the answer to my problems – I was focusing way too much on the bad bits. ‘But isn’t that what revisions are?’ you ask. ‘Isn’t that the point?’ Well, yes, but for me (I’m not sure if this is helpful to anyone else at all) there is another, much more productive way of approaching revisions: instead of looking for where you went wrong, picture the novel how your originally intended it, in all its pre-draft glory, and then figure out how to get it there.

Simple right? Just picture the reality you want and figure out how to get there. (I know there is a famous quote about this very point but I can’t remember what it is).

Who ever knows what is going to help you over that hump? Not only did it help me to see the good parts of my novel, all the little diamond-in-the-rough bits, but it gave me the perspective I needed to get past the dreaded line-edits. I was able to figure out how to fix the big-picture stuff like plot holes and character motivations and let the rest go for another draft at another time.

I guess it’s kind of similar to the journey I’ve been on regarding the inescapable reality that I will be turning 21 in just over a month. At first it scared me, made me feel worthless and put myself under a lot of pressure to get these revisions done, get fit, read more, do more school work (which are all noble goals, don’t get me wrong), but nothing got rid of the fear because no matter what I did I would never feel ‘good enough’ to face the milestone.

And then a Bible study I did helped me to put things in perspective. I don’t normally like to talk about my faith that much on the blog because I don’t want to shove it down people’s throats but this was such a major "oh" moment that I want to share.

I basically realised that with all this talk of what I had or hadn’t achieved, whether or not I was ‘good enough’, I was ignoring the truth of the situation – that none of what I have done or will do in the future was achieved alone. Instead of thinking about what I needed to achieve before turning 21 I needed to think back on the person I was at 13 or 18 and praise God for all the amazing things he had done in my life, how very far he had brought me, since then.

Sure, I still have a lot of growing to do. But I’ve come so far in my 21 years, and that’s what I will be celebrating on the 28th of May – not stressing about how much further I have to go, but praising God for how far I have come.

Thanks for reading, guys!


The ‘Oh’ Moment

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