How did your writing go today? It’s such an innocuous question and yet my knee jerk reaction is to freeze in panic and stutter out some answer in guilty undertones, no matter how accomplished I was feeling moments before. Yesterday was the first day since returning from my trip to Europe that I’d written, the first day I’d gone into my office to work rather than organize or clean off flat surfaces.
(I cannot function in a cluttered, messy environment. I am not your typical author in that way. My office is not piled high with papers and notes and books stacked haphazardly. It is as beautiful a space as I can make it and when it gets messy, you know I’m not in there working. That’s reality. But I digress.)
It was a good day. I got a lot done, both on the writing front and the home front. Ticked quite a bit off on my to do list, including making the blasted thing to begin with. But when I called my daughter to ask her a question about watching her children for her anniversary and she responded with a perfectly natural inquiry into how my writing had gone, I found myself denigrating my accomplishments that up to that moment had left me feeling rather proud. “Oh, I’ve just edited ten pages, not as much as I’d like, but something anyway.”
I’d been working all day. I’d gotten a lot done. I’d been productive. I’d made the bed! I’d gotten dressed in real clothes, done everything I was supposed to by that point in the day, and those ten pages? Were manipulated pages with tiny margins, small spacing and smaller type to fit more words so I didn’t use so much paper printing. But that question is one I’m so used to answering with results, “Oh, I wrote 30 pages, or 5,000 words…” from back in the day when that kind of production was easy and natural, when someone asks me today and I answer in the same way, I’m embarrassed.
I need to not be embarrassed. I need to be glad I’m writing. Thrilled the words flowed and that I made those pages better and that I think when this book is done that readers are really going to like it. I need to be proud that I’m not sitting on the corner of the couch curled up and reading yet another book. Don’t get me wrong, I love to read, but I’ve read a lot of books lately while I haven’t been writing.
And I need to find another way to answer that question, a way that doesn’t downplay, but is also honest. Maybe just, “It was good. I think I made the book better.” I could have told my daughter I tapped into my heroine’s emotional vulnerability and I think that’s going to be a good thing for the reader, that it’s going to change the tone and depth of the book. Yeah, I could have said that. I’m going to have to stop thinking in terms of output and start thinking in terms of what I’m doing, not how much. Even though how much wasn’t really all that bad either. 🙂
Hugs and happy reading!