I have cast my little boat upon the waters.
Today I submitted the first chapter of my first book to my first critique group. New month, new day, new endeavor.
It’s time to get serious about writing again. Time to pick up the blob of dough that’s been rising slowly over the past weeks. Time to return to my characters, my heart having grown fonder toward them through absence. I like them again, messy and ornery as they are.
It’s one of the great platitudes of writing that we write ourselves, that every character is a shard of mirror reflecting a fragment of the writer’s soul. Like those jags of shimmering glass, they sparkle. And they can cut you.
I thought I was writing a character very unlike myself. She has no parents and no memory of any. She is much, much braver than I am. She has an annoying tendency to punch the messenger when she doesn’t like the message, and she’s been carrying a weapon since she could walk. I thought I’d managed to create a character who is nothing like me.
But then, we started disagreeing. Arguing. She won’t listen. She won’t do what I need her to do to move the plot along. And she flatly refuses to admit that she’s wrong. She could be the teenage female version of my five year old, who can stay up until nearly midnight just out of sheer orneriness and a stubborn refusal to end the day.
And then I realized. She’s me. She’s much cooler and angrier and more independent than me, but she’s my spiritual daughter. She had to get that stubbornness from somewhere….
So now, I need to step it up a notch. I need to get back in gear. I need to pick up her story again, and pound away at the keyboard at night, and find out what she’s trying to say, where she’s going, and what she thinks of it when she finally gets there. And to do this, I will need all my stubbornness.
Sometimes I think that stubbornness is my chief vice and virtue, particularly as a mother. I am determined that I can out-stubborn my kids. It’s become a point of pride for me. Whatever else I do, I don’t give up. And when I make mistakes, as I so often do, I make them tenaciously and with gusto. I plunge headfirst into disasters of varying degrees.
I hope my current writing project will not be a disaster. I hope I’ll make sense. I hope I’ll say something worth hearing when I cast my next little vessel out upon the flood. Time to stubbornly push past the insecurities and just do this thing.
“The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.” –Mary Heaton Vorse, American writer, 1881-1966
Look out, chair. It’s pants time.