Lis, my main character in The Call, is someone who lives intently in the moment, so intently that she is often late to the next moment! Some say every character a writer creates has some things in common with the author. While I hope I have few of my villain’s characteristics, I guess I must understand Radek’s temptations or I couldn’t write him well. One thing I can own up to is that, like Lis, I all too often get caught up in a passion for what I am engaged in.
In August I got a new job, and while I have kept this blog going, I have done precious little on my book. The new position was a new passion. In truth it was also an easy excuse for my lack of energy toward editing.
So I will also admit that while starting my book was hard, finishing it is harder. I know that a part of me doesn’t want to finish. As much as I drive to read to the end of a book I am enjoying, I often stop just short of the last page. I start mourning. I put it down, sometimes for days, avoiding the loss I will feel when the characters no longer live in my present but only in my memory. And it is so easy to be distracted, or embrace a ‘new’ passion, rather than let a book, or my book, be really done.
It’s odd that at work I multi-task easily. Most of the time in my life I do as well. But another honest truth is I love immersion. I am happiest when I am caught up in something and can’t let it go. So with my passions, like writing or my work, I all too often end up in an all or nothing approach. And despite loving that depth, sometimes ‘art’ emerges from the granite of life one small chip at a time. The trite journey of a thousands steps, like all cliches, is repeated because it captures truth. Not a grandiose life changing Truth, but the ‘small t’ everyday kind of truth of just getting something done.
So I am back to a favorite Sandburg’s quote. “Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.” The clock is ticking, and the manuscript is waiting, and my job is not the sum total of who I am. I need to start again, one step at a time.
“The way to resume is to resume” was how Gertrude Stein said it. Not to overload you with quotes, but by far the best wisdom for me comes from Robert McKee: “Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage, courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world.”
McKee captures the best combination of a passionate all embracing quest with the minutia of the daily discipline of just putting one step, one word, after the other. I just need the courage to finish. So I am picking up the manuscript, plowing through the corrections, and trying to whistle the words from my childhood, “Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go.”
I never have been much good at whistling. Here’s hoping my dancing is better. The Call is meant to be dazzling.