Getting a Grip

Saturday, July 21, 2012 0 Comments A+ a-

Two posts in one day. If ever there was a sign of my inability to leash my feelings, this would be it.


Okay, the last several hours have been harrowing. I had a terrible revelation moment when, as I began to skim the first half of my book, I realized something was wrong.

Really, really wrong.

I started this monumental project over two and a half years ago. When I began, I wasn't all that familiar with my characters. The more I wrote, the more acquainted we all became. But this afternoon as I looked back over what I'd written, it occurred to me that the characters have evolved. So has the plot. I found elements in the first half that are no longer relevant. Others which should have been drawn out and developed, but weren't. Facts which have no significant impact. A wavering storyline that doesn't become solid until midway through the book.

In short, the first half of the book will need to be reworked. Not sanded down, not polished. Reworked...with a capital 'R'.

I can't even remember the last time I was this disappointed in myself. Honestly, I wanted to cry--which is not my thing. And I freaked. Literally, my hands were shaking. A huge part of me was ready to walk away and give up. Give myself a pat on the back for trying and a big ole audios to this whole effort. Perfectionism has a dark side, people, and I found myself staring right in its gruesome face.

The catalyst for this freak-fest? A nice little chat with someone in the coffee shop whose son happens to have been in publishing. And happens to have been a screenwriter working on projects for a producer whose name made my jaw hit the table. My friend was telling him that I was writing a book, and his son said to have me contact him for some guidance into finding a literary agent, putting together a book proposal, and getting started...before I'm finished writing it.

Are you kidding me? It's not done, not consistent, and not perfect yet.

Oh, yeah. I freaked. In the first place, how did this even happen? How could this kind of significant connection randomly occur in such a sleepy little town? What are the odds? Is God trying to mess with my head?? Secondly, I knew my book wasn't ready. As close to the end as I'm getting, there's still too much to be done. I knew there would be a lot of work to polish it up, but now the entire first half needs to be reworked, for crying out loud! And I'm not even sure that--once it's ready--it will be any good at all. I'm overwhelmed with doubt.

So here's the thing. Several summers ago, I took English horseback riding lessons at a local stable. Best summer of my life, if I'm honest with myself. I love horses, but riding one can be kind of a scary thing if you're not used to it. My instructor told me that I have a certain style when it comes to tackling an obstacle. She said, "I like that you're predictable with your fears. First you freak out, then you get a grip and move on."

Well, today I freaked out. And fortunately, the INFJ bedrock took it like a man.

I'm not going to give up. I picked up a pencil and started lists. Character traits that need to go. Elements to be relocated. Plot inconsistencies. Weaknesses to eliminate. Ways to make this thing consistent from head to toe. I promised my son I would see it through. I love him, and I love my characters. All of them deserve my tenacity.

I'm an INFJ. I've got a stubborn streak wider than a dang country mile. I can fix this.

I called my friend Wendy, who prayed for me over the phone and encouraged me not to drive myself crazy with my perfectionism (me...a perfectionist...really?). She told me to kick doubt in the butt and just keep looking forward and trusting in God to get me through. Wow, was I glad to talk with her. She was a port in the 'freaking' storm, lol!

Now in my current emotional state, I'll still be up half the night grappling with my lists and focusing intently on the problems that need to be remedied. There are some aspects of the perfectionist tendency that you just have to run with.

But I'm getting a grip in order to move on. There's a purpose for everything...maybe someone out there will relate to what I'm going through. If so, hang in there...and I'll hang with you :-)

G'nite, friends!