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A Big, Tricky Package

I decided to break my unintentional radio silence today. If you've followed me and my blog, you know I'm pretty much always struggling with something. Maybe I can make myself feel better by saying some vague, authorly thing like "If writing ever feels easy, you're probably doing something wrong."

But however you put it, I've been quiet because I've been struggling.

I'm sure there are lucky authors out there who always feel like they have a pulse for their stories and where they should go. Writing might even feel easy for them, or at least routine and predictable. I've never been that writer. Like I'd assume most writers do, I struggle. I battle insecurity with my words. I second-guess myself. I re-read passages and ask myself what the hell I was thinking, or what my readers would think of me if they read such uninspiring dialogue or prose. I fall in love with characters and later realize they're flat. I pat myself on the back when I finish a chapter, only to re-read it the following day and question my sanity. I set a goal every work day. I wake up with high hopes and optimism in my brain. "Today is the day I'm going to write 5,000 words again." "Today, I'm going to over-achieve." "Today, I'm going to go through all my backlogged messages on Facebook and all those emails I've been needing to get back to, or maybe I'll even make a blog post." More often than not, my work days feel like a battle against some unstoppable, evil force. I step into my office bright-eyed and bushy tailed, only to be beaten down by reality again and again.

There's no reason today is going to be different than yesterday. Writing is still hard. The words still don't come easy. I still question whether this will be the one--the story that breaks me, the one that I just can't finish and I can't deliver up to my reader's expectations on. I fight against it and I struggle with it during and after my work day. The doubts creep in while I'm playing with my daughters or talking to my husband, while I'm sipping a drink and chewing my dinner at night.

But I still wake up with the same optimism. I still get up and I write. I do it because it's my dream. My dream was never to find something easy to devote my life to. It wasn't to kick my feet up and relax all day, every day. It wasn't to have a job that I was a natural at--to breeze my way through the workday so I could live a carefree life. My dream was to overcome challenges. It was to write a book that would stick with people. I wanted to use words to move my readers, to find some kernel of truth and find something worth saying. Above all, I wanted to write stories that entertain, and I wanted to feel proud of what I'd put down on paper. I wanted to write the book people needed to read.

So every day, I get out of bed and I attack the day, even though more often than not, the day wins. The day chews me up and spits me back out. It doesn't care if I had great intentions or if I tried hard. It gives me eight hours, and then it asks what I've accomplished. How many words did I write and how much do they matter? And every month or so, I finish a book. It's never the perfect book. It's not even close. It's full of missed opportunities and little moments where I let the right words slip by, where I chose the predictable outcome instead of the satisfying one, or where I let a special opportunity go unnoticed. But that's writing. That's life. I don't struggle every day to be perfect. I struggle every day because if it was easy, I wasn't improving. If it's not hard, you're probably not moving forward. Life it too short to stand still, or worse, to move backward.

When my girls are grown and old enough to see me as a person and not the indestructible idea that is a parent, I want them to see that I tried. I didn't close up shop and do something easier. I never stopped striving for a goal, even though I knew in my heart it was one I could never hope to get close to, let alone reach.

I kept trying to write the perfect book, even though I'd never even write the perfect sentence.

I want them to be proud of me, not for what I've accomplished, but for how hard I worked toward my goals. So if you can forgive my moment of preachiness, I want to say that whether you're changing bed pans for the elderly, grading papers, raising your kids, driving cross-country, or trying to pass your classes for one more semester, it's not always going to be easy, and that's okay. I don't know where it came from, but somewhere along the way, we started believing that we were failures because we failed. A failure is someone who gives up, not somebody who doesn't get it right. Boom. That's my inspirational post of the day. I hope you liked it. And in less dramatic news, the book I'm currently struggling to finish is His Package, which should be coming mid December, except I need to finish it in a few days for that to happen, since I agreed to write three books for Montlake and I agreed to have the first one finished by mid January.


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