A Little Rain Must Fall

The sky was overcast this morning as I headed out for my morning walk. It’s summer and I admit, I don’t tend to check the weather that often this time of year. What’s the point? I live in the south. It’s going to be hot. It is going to be humid. There will be a chance of thunderstorms whether there is a cloud in the sky or not. So while it was overcast, it didn’t look like rain and so off I went without double checking one of the several apps on my phone.

About a quarter of the way into my walk, it began to rain. Not just mist or drizzle, but a quiet shower that whispers through the trees and comes down all at once. The kind of rain best listened to as you hit the snooze button and roll back over for a few stolen minutes of cocooned peace. But I had already silenced that alarm clock. I had already dragged myself from the cocoon. I was soaked in a matter of seconds.

The Dixie Chicks Long Way Around came up in my shuffle and so I tucked the phone away and kept going. I was already wet. Water dripped off my lashes and nose. No reason to end my walk early. Like the song, I’m not one for short cuts.

It was beautiful. I laughed. I splashed through a puddle. It was me and the quiet and the scent of fresh cut grass and damp earth. The rain was cool and tickled my skin. I felt ridiculous and invigorated all at once. The rain was brief and the last half of the walk was dry save my shirt, shorts, shoes, and the drops slipping from the drooping and heavy crepe myrtle trees overhanging the sidewalk.  I kept going.

I recently entered my manuscript into #PitchWars, an online contest where aspiring writers submit their work to an amazing group of selfless authors who will serve as mentors. These mentors will select one lucky manuscript each to guide through an in-depth and intense two month editing process to revise and polish the work with an opportunity to pitch the final book to a similarly amazing group of agents.

There are several weeks between now and the selection announcements. There are thousands of entries. There are 149 mentors. There are fewer mentors suitable for my book. There are four that I submitted to. There are odds that are small and then there are these odds. And I admit, I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed with how inept my book is. How wrong it must be. How trite and amateur and many more adjectives with less friendly sides to them. Because I am a writer. And what is a writer if not filled with self doubt?

Writing fiction, especially a long work of fiction, can be a difficult, lonely job; it’s like crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a bathtub. There’s plenty of opportunity for self-doubt. – Stephen King

But I’m not one for short cuts. The wait, the work, the doubt, it’s all just a little rain and while I may get wet, I will also get to see bright yellow leaves skid across puddles and the shift of the clouds across the sky. I will be uncomfortable, but I will be making progress. If I let it, the rain – the setbacks that seem annoying, painful, discouraging – might simply be watering the work so that when the sun shines again it will grow and blossom into the beautiful thing I know it to be.

I am back at my desk. Back at work. Letting the rain fall where it must and putting in the steps to get where I am going. See you there.




Doing it Scared

“I just love the way you’ve embraced your fears about doing this…”

These are the words my husband imparted to me during a conversation about where I am in my writing process (editing, mired in the busy work of agent research and query letters, preparing for the inevitable letting go). I laughed. Because embracing my fears? Not at all.

I told him, it’s not so much that I have embraced them or welcomed them or accepted them. It’s more that I have let them sit down next to me like a stranger on a train. I’ve allowed their presence and acknowledge the occasional knee bumping mine. Sometimes they feel small and I can put them in a pocket or a drawer and those times are the best. The rest of the time, they hover like a shadow, over my shoulder, or under the desk. I cross my ankles while sitting in my work chair and half expect to nudge one with my toe. I wonder if I turn around fast enough will I catch one in the act, mimicking me like a bad classroom student imitating their teacher as the rest of the class sniggers and guffaws tacitly siding with the bully’s caricature interpretation while ignoring the sincerity of her words or intent?

Instead, I face front. I keep typing. When the fear starts to breathe against my neck or tap my shoulder more insistently, I focus on my dreamer flower.

Putting myself out there. Doing it scared.

That’s all I can do. All I can ever do. Keep putting myself out there. Keep putting one word after another. Keep compiling lists of agents. Keep finessing that query letter. Keep editing that synopsis. Keep contemplating that manuscript for the next round of edits. Keep putting my butt in the chair every morning. Keep taking it seriously.

The fear is still there. May always be there. But I’ve stopped fighting it. It’s a waste of energy. Let it sit and rest awhile. Maybe it will get bored. Maybe it will leave. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I keep going.

Doing it scared. But doing it.