Tuesday, July 19, 2011
That we shouldn't be anxious to finish a project
Each time I've worked on a novel, I could hardly wait for the whole process to be over so I could hold the finished product in my hands. To see my name on a glossy cover, breathe in that wonderful new book smell and have other people enjoy my stories was the great aim that kept me going.
As I shared in my last post about self pity, for a few weeks I'd decided to stop all work on my most recent project. The pity party I was wallowing in made me decide that until I helped sell all of the seven novels I've already got, there was no point in churning out more.
Well, once I'd made that decision to take a break from writing, I was surprised by something I never expected to happen. I quickly started missing it all. I discovered that I really wanted to be nutting out scenes, dreaming about characters, making my own editing slashes along the way and building up piles of A4 manuscript paper. I wanted to be shuffling scenes around and deleting waffly parts of the story. I realised that this whole process means far more to me than just necessary busy-work to achieve an end result. It's a really rewarding and valuable activity in its own right. When I don't have a current manuscript to keep my imagination occupied for months, I hate it!
I was wondering if anybody is in the middle of long-term project which you're finding a bit of a drag. It might be a study degree, a home or garden project or some enormous art or craft. Maybe it's some sort of outreach mission directed at others which never seems to make a visible difference. Do you ever hear yourself grumble, "I can't wait until I finish this baby," or something like that? Please don't be grouchy and impatient about all the hard work. I want to encourage you to enjoy every moment you devote to it, because pouring energy into a long term project that is larger than yourself is what makes life worthwhile. I've made that discovery in my own personal experience over the last few weeks.
Now I've re-commenced work on my new manuscript and this time I'm not going to be impatient to see the finish. It's not true that my work loses its meaning and significance if I can't sell it to thousands or millions of other people. The whole creative process is very meaningful and significant to me and that includes every tiny bit of progress made each day.
For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin - real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way, so treasure every moment you have and remember that time waits for no-one - Souza