I am Stalling and That's OK
It is me or is everything going haywire right now? Everyone is on the brink. Everything feels teetering on the edge. Everyone’s on their last nerve. Oh wait, it’s been like this for a year. Fun times! I feel like I want to hug everyone (if only), tell them everything is going to be ok (if only), that the things they are worrying about are not going to get fixed by worrying. Oy, I’m a fixer. This is not a great way to go through life right now.
ANYWAY, this newsletter today is actually about writing, and stalling. Because I am stalling on a writing project right now. I had a huge breakthrough about a month ago, thanks to my amazing writing group, (hi!!) and I tore through like 10k words in a matter of days. It was amazing. I was on fire! And then I got to a point where I knew I needed to do some editing, to move the jenga blocks around some so it would be more stable, and I…..don’t want to do that right now. I printed out the manuscript so that I could see and feel it, and so that I could look at it on paper and screen at the same time. (Don’t pitch me on Scrivener I know all about it and I don’t want to do it and no amount of evangelizing will make me do it so don’t bother thank you). I don’t have to do it this way, paper and screen, but it feels like the right next step and I just…. have to do it.
But there’s been a lot of work to do—at home and at the day job. The weather is only just now getting sorta maybe nice and I’m coming out of a winter funk. I have a four year old and….whew. The people I love need me right now. It’s ok but it’s also a lot. I have so so so so so many other privileges that these are truly petty complaints. But that doesn’t change the effect they have on my life, and I’m the one who’s living it. We all have our things to deal with, easier and harder than the things I even just briefly mention here. We are all feeling something.
And this book is dealing with some harder things for me than I’ve previously written about and well, that has an effect on how much I can and want to work on it. So, I’m stalling. I get up early and look at the manuscript and say well, I actually have to read this morning. Or, I should plan my day so I’ll be more productive. Or the kid wakes up early, or I journal and that’s all the time I have or I sleep in because I was up late the night before and sleep is more important that day. These are all excuses not to write but they are also necessary. They are part of the process of processing.
I met with my writing group last night (virtually) and am invigorated again to do the thing I’ve been putting off and just start. Somewhere. Anywhere. A few pages at a time. Eventually it will get done and I will have made the decisions I need to make to get to the next part and then I will be there and I will do the next thing. But I will not beat myself up for this period of time I did not work, because the not-working is sometimes as necessary, and unavoidable, as the working. Sometimes you just can’t. Sometimes you have to prioritize other parts of your life. Sometimes you need to process something off the page—whether it’s emotional or plot-wise or just finding courage—so you can do the things on the page. I used to get really stressed out about this, watching days tick by and counting the words I didn’t write. But the not-writing is important. You have to listen to that part, too.
You might be stalled or stalling in other areas outside your control. You might be waiting for someone to read your work (sorry if that’s me!!). You might be waiting for the offer or the rejection. You might be waiting for beta readers or freelance editors or your best friend’s greenlight to send out your work. You might be scared to do the thing you want or need to do. And this is all compounded by the trauma of 2020 and the things still happening now. It’s not great, y’all. It’s ok if you’re struggling. Not to be all the struggle is noble and shit because sometimes the struggle is just struggle and caused by things we can’t control in the least, that aren’t our fault, that are done to us, but the struggle is not wasted time. It just is. It’s just time. There is more time than you think. There are more options than you think. There are many more agents than you think. You have much more resilience than you think. Maybe your stalling or delay is a chance to rest. And we all need some rest.
This is as much a pep talk to me as I hope it is for you. Rest and take care of yourself and your loved ones and your community, as much as you can. Try not to worry about the things you can’t control, as much as you can. Try to keep yourself from the brink as much as you can, because we need you. Your work will be there when you’re ready. Don’t be scared. But don’t be scared to rest.
I hope a vaccine is on your horizon.