6 years, 5+ drafts, 83k words, and a whole lot of procrastination. The work is ready to go out into the world.
I couldn’t bend. Physically and mentally. I was sitting with my legs spread wide, then I was supposed to bend forward, forearms on the mat. Deep breath and bend. And… nothing. My body couldn’t do what I was prompted to do. All I could do is sit with my palms pressing into the floor, my head bent… because I could at least bend there.
This pose that I simply couldn’t do usually wouldn’t be a big deal any other day, but today it seemed like a bad omen.
I know my body’s limitations. I know that I need to bend my legs to get into a sitting forward fold, I don’t have the core strength to do crow pose, I’ve just started being able to do upward facing dog. That’s fine. 99% of the time. Today, my headspace was not a place of rainbows and unicorns, so this limitation was met with plenty of self-doubt and frustration.
This has happened before in my writing. Something just wouldn’t bend in my brain the way it needed to, in order to get onto the page in some remotely successful way. The words weren’t right, the feeling wasn’t there, the dialogue was unnatural. I knew what I needed to do, I could picture it in my head. But, when it came down to it, it didn’t happen the way it was supposed to.
And that’s okay.
Sometimes words don’t come out the way they need to; sometimes that yoga pose doesn’t look the way it’s “supposed” to. But, that’s life. Life is frustrating, it doesn’t bend, it’s a little awkward and messy.
My favourite yogi, Adriene Mishler of Yoga with Adriene, has a great saying that can be applied to life as much as yoga: Find what feels good.
Basically, it means that the shape of the pose doesn’t matter as much as how it feels. If your one-legged pigeon is a little wonky, that’s fine as long as you’re not hurting yourself and it feels good. If you look at it from a wider perspective, it can easily apply to most things in life. My process of writing isn’t going to be the same as yours. What you need to do to get your story out isn’t what I need to do. If it isn’t what the “professionals” are doing, that’s just fine, as long as it feels good for you.
The thing is not to let your feelings of self-doubt be in control, as it seems they inevitably will be when you compare yourself to someone else. That’s what I needed to take away today, after some self-reflection and mindfulness. Maybe there will come a time that I stop comparing myself to those I admire, but today is not that day.
How to Tell Your Family You’re No Farther Along with Your Book than the Last Time They Asked
The holidays have just passed and I’m sure you saw at least some form of family or friends, and if they know you’re a writer I’m sure they asked you how your writing is going. It happened to me at least twice.
While it’s nice to have family that cares and is interested in your writing, it can be a little awkward if you don’t have much to report.
Here’s a quick and easy guide to come out of those situations looking like an impressive writer person!
Step 1: Be as vague as possible.
Depending on where you are in your writing journey, you can use different buzzwords like: draft, revising, narrative, plot, characterization, dénouement, Freytag’s pyramid… in the hopes that using such words will make you sound well-educated and knowledgeable about writing in general.
Example: “Thanks, uncle Darrel. I’m drafting my novel and really working on my characterization. I want to make sure the introspection of my protagonist through flashbacks is especially efficient during the falling action.”
Step 2: Prepare for the question, “When can I read it?”
There is a good chance that whoever is talking to you will ask if or when they can read it. THIS IS SUPER NICE! Having someone who wants to read your writing is the best thing. When you don’t have anything worth reading yet, it can be awkward.
Be honest! Tell them it’s not ready yet, but you will let them know when it is.
Example: “I’m glad you want to read it, cousin Carol. The story isn’t done, but I’ll let you know when it is and you can be the first to read it.”
Step 3: Appreciate having such a supportive family
Example: “Thank you so much, aunt Beth! I’m so glad you’re interested in my writing.”
Step 4: Believe in yourself and your talents
The fact that you have people who want to read your writing is amazing! You are putting in time and effort to create this piece of art and that is amazing! It might not be getting done as fast as you want, but the process of writing is a complex and unique journey.
Enjoy the journey and don’t sweat the awkward questions! You can do it! Keep writing! You’re a rockstar.