Repeating Cycles

anotherfernThe ferns are unfurling once more. Last year I posted pics of the new young ferns, and so noticing them again this year reminded me that yes, indeed, I’ve been here over a year now. Things–seasons–are beginning to repeat, and I’m starting to know what to expect. It’s a comforting feeling, in some ways, since it means I’m making a place “home.”

But another thing has come to repeat, one that’s going to bring lots of chaos to life. We’re going to be moving. Again. Which is kind of funny (funny-strange, not funny-haha) if you consider the years bringing “moving” with them as a seasonal variation. I certainly expect this to be the last move for a number of years. Then again, I thought that same thing a move ago. Well, life is an adventure, yes? Good thing I feel adventuresome.

I’m going to try with all my being to stay on-track with my writing goals, especially since I’m in “novel land” now. It’s Day 5 for me (I’m taking Sundays off from writing, especially now), and I’m 5,000 words in on an estimated 80,000-90,000 word novel. Why the 10,000 word spread? Because I’m not entirely sure if I’ll go long or short, so I’m being generous with my goal.

For anyone who’s interested, here’s how my first day went: I sat down at the computer, feeling nervous, excited, and more than a little silly. I opened the Scrivener file with all my notes and such, and went to the ‘novel itself’ portion, where I made and titled a new scene under the Chapter One folder. I stared at this for a looong moment. It felt momentous, and then I felt stupid for delaying. Duh. It’s just a blank file.

So I started typing. I stopped typing right around 1100 words, and sat back. There was a little glow in my belly, and in my brain. I felt…vindicated. Victorious. Happy. My first day writing this novel, and I’d met my goal; the words had flowed, and I’d finished the first opening scene while staying on track. Talk about giddy-making!

And then the Internal Editor woke up. (I think the surfeit of happiness did it, honestly.) What? it said. You forgot you’re working on a novel, not a short story. You need to layer in way more setting here, especially since it’s secondary-world fantasy. You need to re-write the whole thing. Everything you just wrote? It stinks. Oh, and you’re summarizing her character too much. Slow down and show it. Again, you’re forgetting it’s a novel, and you have time and space to expand a bit. That’s the joy of novels, dip-brain! (Have I mentioned my internal editor is a real curmudgeon, and that she loves calling me names?)

Anyway, so much for that initial burst of happiness. I felt it drain away, and I burned with shame at my failing, at my hubris in being happy a moment before. But I rallied and smacked the Internal Editor down. Yes, I told her. I do need to layer in more of those things. But I’m not going to rewrite all this just now. I’ll do that later, in editing the first draft. I can’t edit the first draft if I never finish writing it. And yes, I’ll try to keep in mind from now on that I’m writing a novel, not a short story. I’ll slow down, breathe in my descriptions and exhale my characterizations more fully. I’ll be aware of this, but I will not stop now, or expect perfection in the first draft. Do you hear? I repeat: I will not hold myself to perfection in this draft. Anything I forget in this draft I can layer in or change in later drafts. It’s why they’re called “drafts.”

And so it goes. I’m not writing the perfect draft. I’m well aware of that. But I’m not letting the Critic and the Editor inside me keep me from finding joy in writing, or from writing at all.

I hope you’re doing the same. Keep writing!

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About M.E. Garber

I'm an Ohio-born speculative fiction writer in New Jersey.
This entry was posted in Magic of the Everyday, Moving, Personal Life, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Repeating Cycles

  1. Sonya says:

    Wow, I will need to come for a visit after the boxes are empty. Yahoooooo, on the novel! You go girl!!!

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  2. A novel! Wow! That’s exciting news. *cheers*

    Congratulations on calling out your Internal Editor. And what’s with the name calling? Mine does that, too. It’s not very nice.

    And, oh dear. When I read “shame at my failing, at my hubris in being happy”, oh, the sinking in my gut, the cringing and hot-faced shame. Thank you for sharing that. I feel it too over the same reason. It’s a horrible thing to feel. So I am *very* happy to hear you rallied and reasoned “perspective” and “process” and “gentleness”.

    Happy Spring! Happy Writing!

    – kat

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    • M.E. Garber says:

      I’m glad it helped. I’ve read other places where writers acknowledge their insecurities, and it helped me greatly to know that I’m not the only one hearing these nasty voices, suffering under these Internal Editor and Impostor Syndrome curses. I’m sharing this so others will likewise get the benefit of “I’m not alone in this!” Maybe it’ll help someone stare down those feelings and keep writing.

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