“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up, for that is just the place and the time when the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Well, it’s actually World Book Night, which is a wonderful event that takes place all over the country and part of me wants to write about it, but the other part, which is winning out, wants to write about my own personal book night, which frankly, is not going well. Here’s the deal: I’ve hit a low patch in my YA novel revision. Really low.
My first chapter seems to be a mess. I’ve rewritten it to the point where my sister Stephanie says I’m over thinking it, which seems to be bad news, because I’m totally confused. To make things worse, I’ve made some other structural changes in my revision which don’t seem to be working very well. No, let’s be honest, they’re not working at all.
Part of me feels like throwing in the towel. But I’m not going to do that. I’m going to fight through it and take a “darkest before the dawn” stance. That’s why I just went over to my desk and dug out the inspiring quote spotlighted above which I cut out long ago from a Celestial Seasonings tea box so I’d have it handy for just the kind of moment I’m experiencing right now. So how am I going to handle this? Here’s my plan:
1 I’m going to take Harriet Beecher Stowe at her word. Harriet had quite a few low
moments herself in her writing career, so I’m going to trust that she knows what
she’s talking about and that the tide is going to turn. Guaranteed!
2 I’m going to push past this discouraging time in the only way I know how, by writing
through it. I’m going to sit down tomorrow and see what I can come up with on the
page without being too judgmental about it. Even a little progress will be fine with me.
3 I’m going to play around. Instead of getting all angsty, I’m going to start playing
with my scenes. I’m going to think of them as pieces of a puzzle and remember
that if I can just get them lined up in the right way, they’ll all full into place.
4 I’m going to remember that every creative project has a “fall apart” stage that’s
a natural and predictable phase on the road to completion. I’ve just hit mine.
5 I’m going to be kind to myself and not get too upset about the fact that I’ve hit
a rough patch and feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. And even if I don’t, that’s
OK, because there’s an old Estonian proverb I love which says “The work itself
will teach you.” I just have to be willing to keep learning — and I am.
If you’re going through a rough patch yourself, I hope something here helps you. And if you’ve been through one and survived, please tell me how! And if you want to give me a boost, that would be great, too. Write on.