Since we last met, I got married. It was eight days ago, but it feels like that ceremony took place many moons ago. It was one of those essentially perfect days. First, you have to know that I'm not a girlie girl. The idea of a being a bride in the way that it's often expressed in this culture makes me want to break out in hives. So we went simple. The day of the wedding, Mike and I went to our hair stylist. I showed her the flower crown that I bought on Amazon. I explained to her that I would be wearing a Hawaiian shirt for the ceremony, as would Mike. She braided my hair and put it up, and I felt pretty in a way that I could handle. (And this is one of those things that I figure you will either understand or you won’t. Either way, that’s okay.)
Then we drove down to Manteca, met some friends, and got married at Billie Hill's Hillbillie BBQ. No one had ever gotten married there before. We marched in with a music stand, and our friend Melissa wore her ministerial garb, and we had a spangled microphone, and my friend Lis, a professional videographer, recorded the proceedings, and people at the bar and on the other side of the restaurant watched with great bemusement, while I glowed and thought, “This is so us.”
So that happened, and then we went back to real life, except now I punctuate ever other sentence with “husband,” or “now that I'm your wife,” and it's rather obnoxious and fun. I'm getting over it, but that's because it feels like we got married a dinosaur age ago.
In the days that followed, I finished a solid draft of my book, The Sharpest Claw, Book 2 of the Cats of the Afterlife series. When I felt good about this draft, I turned it over one more time to one of my readers and my developmental editor to make sure the nuts and the bolts are in place. I went for a walk and listened to a Jane Austen book. I felt like fist pumping every bend in the trail. I only did it twice. I felt like I ran a good race. Here's some thoughts on this process:
You have to know that I'm of the Elizabeth Gilbert school of thought re: books and money. I would welcome abundant financial compensation for the writing that I do, but I don't have it linked to my everyday survival. I work as an editor and as a transcriber for food, rent, and utilities, and other everyday expenses that need to be addressed. I write for an hour a day. But that gives me the freedom to write about whatever I want and to schedule it however I want. That feels important to me. If I didn't have that underlying philosophy around writing, this book would have felt torturous to me. It was a tricky process, full of open doors that looked like dead ends, and if I had a linear timeline with a mandatory deadline, I would have felt very frustrated writing this book. Instead, as much as I could, and I would say that I was able to adopt this philosophy 85 percent of the time, I chose the attitude of curiosity and a sense of adventure. I trusted my characters and I trusted myself, even when it looked like a big mess.
This time around, I became seriously aware of the practice of planting seeds, of being okay with not having an immediate answer. Over and over again, I saw that when I had a question about a character or a plot point, I could recognize my uncertainty, let it go, and the answer would come to me. For this book, when I handed over an earlier draft to readers and my developmental editor, and I knew that it was problematic, but I didn't know how to fix it, I decided to read Save the Cat! Writes a Novel while the draft was in other hands, and it, plus my readers' and editor's feedback, gave me answers that made the revision process, although challenging, exciting.
There was a time once, when I was on a day job, and a co-worker called me a Pollyanna, and I considered that a major insult, and I adjusted my attitude so I was as cynical and grumpy and nonsupportive as everyone else there. That was a big mistake, and I now choose a path intrinsic to my nature. I am a Pollyanna. I can shout to you from the rooftops that writing is a magical, joyous experience. Will I have doubts and fears and foggy paths again? Sure. But I think these tools and this attitude will take me a long way. I hope it is in some way helpful for you.