Impatience and the Writing Process

If I had to sum up my writing issues with my current work in progress (The Sharpest Claw, Book 2 in the Cats of the Afterlife series), I would say that impatience would top the list. It has dogged me in writing this particular talking cat fantasy. As Mike would tell you, it is also not my friend in life. It seems I often feel like I'm late for a very important date, but in actuality, I'm an independent. I earn my living through my day job, editing and transcribing. There is no need to be in a rush. I like to write a book a year. It is the start of the second month in 2019. I'm at a good place. But try telling that to the monkeys in my head.

So when I wrote the first draft of this particular book, I came to a point where it no longer felt fun. It certainly didn't feel on the right track. I printed out what I had done and read it and realized that I had jumped over steps in the story. I backtracked, filled in the spaces, and then could hum along again

After I had written and revised until I could no longer see the words clearly any more, I sent it off to my beta readers and my developmental editor. Usually I send it to my DE after my beta readers had given me their feedback and I had revised it until I could no longer look at it. But for this book, I had checked in with my DE and she said she might not be available later on in the year. It felt wise to send it to her now.

But here's what happened. One of my beta readers gave me her feedback in record time, and she had some important things to say. I realized I would need to revise the last third of the book. Thinking about it, I decided that the changes were substantial enough that I didn't want my DE to read it right now. It would be better for me to roll the dice and see if she was available in the future once I had revisioned the end. And then I set to work, and I had some good ideas, but then I felt rotten about it and started playing the Loser Writer's Greatest Hits in my head starting with, “How Could I Have Been So Blind?,” continuing on with “Why Did I Think I Could Write?” and finishing with, “I Should Abandon This Now.”

Then I took a deep breath. I watched a sitcom and danced around the room. I took my anti-anxiety medication three hours earlier than I normally do. And I had a thought. “Hello? I haven't heard from my other beta reader yet. I had scheduled a month for this process. That would be starting writing on February 23rd. It is now February 2nd. Hello?”

So I emailed my other beta reader, my primary reader, the one who has been with me through this entire writing process, the one who I hope will be my beta readers always. I asked him if he received the manuscript. I didn't even know if that was true. And he responded right away and told me he had it, that he had read fifty pages, that he could get back to me at the end of the week. And everything felt right again.

This morning, instead of working on the draft, I began listening to Save the Cat by Blake Snyder and taking notes. Humility is a writer's best friend. I have so much to learn. (And I think I will explore impatience in one of my novels soon, perhaps this one. It really does get in the way of dreams!)