At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Writing: Never Give Up

I figure I should pound out a post tonight, since I'll be separated from my trusty laptop for a few days. Our school is overseeing a computer upgrade for all faculty, and so tomorrow I'm taking mine in so they can transfer everything on it to my new laptop. At least, that's what they told me, that everything would be fine on the transfer. Thus, my Calvinist self, eschewing trust in the future, put all my stuff on flash drive to make sure I lose nothing.

It will mean a few days off from writing, but I've made my peace with that. For one, I've been busy enough. My publisher and I have had an efficient week, emailing my final edited manuscript for Litany of Secrets back and forth, then finalizing the layout that Mark pulled together. Plus, my cover artist has done some amazing pieces for our perusal, and I must say I am really excited about the cover!

But back to writing. Back when I first started writing fiction, I felt like I had to ram through at least a thousand words a day or my efforts would be considered a failure. Now I don't have daily goals. I mean, it's nice if I can put out about eight to ten pages, double-spaced. One day, I reached eight thousand words. But those days are rare. And not getting stuff done now and then doesn't bother me like it used to. Because I know I'll get it done because I've finished things before.

Precedent. And that takes me back to the first book I ever wrote.

Our first year in St. Louis was an absolute heart-smashing mess. We moved here in July of 2008. In November, our 19-month old son Jordan died suddenly. In January 2009, our eldest son Joshua went into the hospital with respiratory illness (RSV virus). With all the hardship and tragedy with our two sons, Christy and I figured that our daughter Lindsay was slipping through the attention cracks. All that pressure eventually plays havoc with the threads of a marriage, and we went through some difficult and transformative channels. Finally, we got to a point where God brought us through enough fire where it had truly changed us for the better. And so--to show Christy how much she meant to me through it all--I decided to do the most natural thing to celebrate.

I decided to write a book. Not just any book. A retrospective of our life together from the time we met to the present day. I went back through my mental Rolodex (let's face it: I was born to be a history major!) and recalled two hundred different events over thirteen and a half-years. And yes, through either embedded memory or tracking back on various calendars, I managed to nail down the dates of every event. And I just wrote about each time from my perspective, a story of our life.

Over three hundred pages. In excess of one hundred ten thousand words. Counting the two weeks of planning out the events and how to organize the story, it took me four months to get it done.

Yes, without Christy realizing I was doing it at all. But that's not the point.

The point is that for the first time, I realized that I could undertake a massive writing project, from beginning to end, and bring it to completion...while enjoying it at the same time. More than anything else, writing that book for Christy taught me that I could be a writer.

So nothing dissuades me anymore. I know things will get done. It's happened before.

Never give up. It's the key to all good writing. And all of life.

No comments: