As some of you may have noticed (or heard me whining about), I’ve fallen way behind over the last year and a half. It started with hurricane Irma smashing our garage to the ground and destroying our roof, but it snowballed after that. Does that happen to you? Something throws you off course, and then every little disruption just pushes you farther and farther away from your goal? It sure happened to us, and we are still digging out.
Now don’t get me wrong. After seeing new footage of the devastaton in Mexico Beach, FL (near Panama City), it was brought home to me once again how incredibly lucky we were. Our house is still standing, and better yet, so are we! 🙂 But I have to accept the fact that I’m still behind, and may never get totally back on schedule around here. And that’s what I really want to talk about. Schedules and deadlines, especially those we independent writers impose on ourselves.
In less than four years, I wrote & published six full-length novels, a small book of poetry, and one spin-off novella. I was on a streak. Then, it all went a little bit sideways, and between September 2017 and October, 2018, I only managed to publish one more novella. Oh, I’ve been working on novel #7–another sojourn into my beloved North Carolina mountains with Rabbit and crew, working title, The Light–and I think it’s going to be an entertaining read. But the work is going painfully slow. Somehow, there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomodate both my Real Life obligations and my writing. This distresses me greatly. I’m unhappy when I can’t do it all, and yet I know that’s just the way it is at times.
If I were 35 or 45–or even 55–I wouldn’t worry as much about getting all my stories told. But I’ll be 75 on the 17th. (That’s THREE QUARTERS of a century! OMG.) My fear is that I won’t be able to write for as many more years as I’d like, which, btw, would be ALL of the years I’ve been allotted! So I panic when my pace falls off the mark. And yet, I know these deadlines and goals are arbitrary ones I’ve set for myself.
What I’m trying to learn is how to be more accepting of the bumps in the road that slow me down, or bring me to a complete stop now and then, while roadblocks are removed. I understand the need to be at peace with those things we can’t change, but it’s much easier to quote snappy platitudes than it is to implement them.
I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in setting unrealistic expectations for myself. I think we all do this at times, and writers perhaps more than most. We are eager (and often anxious) to get our stories out there. (Otherwise, we’d likely be content to just let them play out in our heads.) So, my question is, how many of you put excessive pressure on yourselves with deadlines that are often arbitrary? How do you handle it when you realize meeting them is impossible? Have you learned to accept life’s disruptions rather than letting them frustrate you half to death? If so, what’s your secret? I want to be better at acceptance, while not losing my fervent desire to write, write, write. Am I looking for the impossible?
What are your thoughts? Inquiring minds wanna know.
PS – today’s header is one of the reasons I love the North Carolina mountains so much. The Appalachians are the oldest mountains on the entire planet. Time has worn them down into softer forms than many ranges, and clouds meander along (and between) the tops of them. My WIP is set in autumn, 2014, amid scenery exactly like this header image.