My tumultuous relationship with a manuscript:

My tumultuous relationship with a manuscript:

Upon first meeting, nearly seven years ago, it was love at first sight. I was overcome. Passionate words were brought to life in the quiet hours of night. I pined over my new manuscript when we were not together during the days. The characters, the setting, the story, consumed my thoughts like the raging hormones of a teenager.

Oh we had some glorious times! I felt alive, free, and blissfully happy! But love is blindness and so I didn’t see the mistakes, the enormous plot holes, or the seeds of doubt over my entire outline. I was blinded by cutest couple awards and sweet caresses at night.

Over the years those relationship problems have grown more acute. I’ve sat down with my manuscript and have given it a stern talking to about its wayward looks and wild side. I’ve tried to wrap it up into a clean outline. But we end up laughing, then crying, because both of us know that isn’t us. But the thing that really kills us is the comparison . . . the looking at the success of other relationships, then looking at each other and saying, “why can’t we be like that?”

Over the years I have shown this manuscript to my friends and put it through relationship advice. We even went through intense therapy for a year. Some friends thought it was adorable and that we were perfect for each other. My therapist? Not so much. The advice was welcome, but hurt, and I wondered if I was in an unhealthy relationship with my manuscript. I’ve revised and reworked it nearly twenty times. How could something I love hurt me so?

There have been moments, sometimes years, when we have broken up. I needed space. I dated around in the form of publishing three other books. I flirted and finished a dozen other stories. This manuscript has killed me and I have killed it and either we cannot live together anymore with all these questions and wondering, or we have to date exclusively. It’s all or nothing.

I keep going back to the bones, to the root of our love, and looking at it without the advice or the critique of others. I’ve dissected it to the point that I might have killed the passion. When you fight so much, where is there room for fun and passion?

So, I’m asking for relationship advise. What do I do with this manuscript? To completely break up with it would shatter my heart. To stay in this relationship would take a great deal of work and most likely more future cutting heartache. Maybe I try one last time to resurrect what first brought us together. Maybe the years have matured both of us. Maybe we will survive this. Maybe we won’t. Maybe, Maybe. What May Be?

Maybe I just let it go…

But maybe I don’t…

** Update on our relationship status: **

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I took these questions and concerns to the mountains and contemplated our final break up. I stared at a jagged mountain without a trail. Upon the pine-scented breeze a gentle kiss caressed my cheek, followed by a whisper in my ear.

“I love you,” my manuscript said to me.

I thought about the weight of my response. Old lessons, and encouraging keynotes, and even my own thoughts, came to mind. My eyes drifted again to where the shrouded summit met the clouds. Another attempt at an ascent, with my manuscript in tow, might kill me. I’d been circling this relationship, this mountain, worrying about breaking up, but also worrying about staying together.

I waited a long time to respond. But this manuscript is patient, even though the feeling is unreciprocated. I took a deep breath in lungs that aren’t used to high elevation changes. I placed my ailing feet in a river that had given me lazy comfort.

A peaceful feeling swept over me and a tiny smile found a tiny trail up that enormous mountain.

“I love you, too,” I whispered, as I prepared myself for the climb.

*******

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SO:

Just like a mature relationship, there will be rules, and blisters, and cliffs and grand vistas. And I will look for joy in all of them.

Here is my plan.

HERE IS MY DAY ONE!   (head nod to Storymakers and Jennifer Nelson)

#1 – Mentally and spiritually prepare myself everyday to make this relationship work. Ask for inspiration. Pray. Meditate. Whatever it takes to calm my mind to look at this clearly so that I don’t lose my temper and storm off.

#2 – Look to the future. Reflect on the past in brief moments, but approach this as a new exciting adventure. Even though the packaging or substance is the same, it will have different wrapping. Accept that it might look different . . . again.

#3 – Follow your heart. You’ve listened to enough critique, and feedback, and praise, and especially rejection. Take everything you’ve learned from all those other relationships and put everything into this one. No matter what happens after you’ve given it your all–and you thought you already had–you will rest knowing that you did it with clarity.

#4 – Climb. Everyday climb. Some days the trail will be easy, other days you will have hardly moved. Just move or your body and mind will atrophy. It will come at you like a sudden mountain storm. Remember the elements are fighting against you and you will want to give up if you take the time to stop. It would have been easier to just start another completely different project. But there is history between the two of you and you have weathered many storms.

#5 – Don’t doubt. You were given an answer on what to do about this relationship. Don’t doubt it. Simple as that.

#6 – Surround yourself by inspiration. Make time for creative-minded friends who encourage and uplift. Go to the mountains at least once a week to write or to be surrounded by setting. Summer or winter, explore nature. This is an instant inspiration for me. Take long breaks from social media. Maybe this isn’t for everyone, but social media zaps the creative flow instantly for me. Before I check any social media sites, open up my manuscript first. Show my manuscript that it comes first. Show love and it will return the love.

#7 – Get on a schedule. Organize the household necessities first so that your mind is clear and open. It’s different for everyone, but for me it is a clean kitchen, exercise, work (whether it’s at my job, or doing housework, paying bills, etc.) Then make time for writing by turning all electronic devices and social media off.

#8 – Have fun! Writing is fun. Well, it is more torturous than fun, but if you approach writing with the above goals and don’t give up, then hopefully you will reach the summit with a gratifying smile. Learn to enjoy the journey, not the destination. And absolutely, do not compare. Comparison kills gratitude. Comparison is like a free fall off a cliff. And right now everything hinges on begin grateful for this journey.

More detailed goals just for me:

  • I know that my best writing moments are in the middle of the night. This one is hard for me to figure out. Just know that if I go to bed early I will notoriously wake up in the middle of the night to write. Or if I stay up late, learn how to deal with no sleep. It’s just a fact, no matter how hard I try to work on sleep. You’ve been nocturnal your entire life, just succumb to it. Apply more make-up to the bags under your eyes because we have committed to get off the caffeine, remember?
  • Social Media: For real, get off it. Even though you have deleted it from your phone, maybe have someone else reset a password and then tell you once a week what it is so that you can check it. It seems extreme, but it is a time suck, an energy suck, and a creativity suck. This includes Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram. Twitter doesn’t count, I’m never on there because I hate it. My blog: update my progress weekly on the comment section of this post regarding the progress of working on my manuscript.
  • Go back to not watching TV. Whaaa, Supernatural, I love you, but I’m kind of getting frustrated with season six anyway. Okay, I can watch the new season of Fixer-Upper on Tuesday nights. I really am happier when I am not watching TV and am instead reading or living inside my own stories.
  • Read more. Actually, I get obsessed while reading and have to finish the book in one sitting. Everything else falls away, so read with caution that it will take away from writing. Read excellent words when I do so.
  • Create my create space. Finish my art and writing room. But in the meantime, don’t slack on writing as I’m “waiting” for my space to be ideal. It’s in the mindset, not the daily setting.
  • Save home renovations for Saturdays. This has been the #1 culprit of why my writing has stopped. I’ve lived in chaos and now that the home is coming together, don’t spend time nit-picking all the little projects that still need to be done. You’ve made a to-do list, so get it out of your mental list and work on checking it off on Saturdays.
  • Good music, good attitude, good vibes. Just live in a good space. I have been filled with so much criticism and negative feelings about this manuscript that I need to look for positivity. Flirt together, introduce new things, and let go of the words that aren’t working.    *Fall in love with this manuscript again!*

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My goal is to reach this summit by the end of the year. My summit is to finish revising this manuscript because I love it and I believe that together we can climb hard things.

Thanks for stopping by,

Tara

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The Christmas Bike Release!

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Today is release day for my book,

The Christmas Bike!!!

Here are all of the buy links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Here is a synopsis: Christmas is already going to be tough for Marie and her family. When a series of events is set in motion long before a Christmas Eve tragedy, she is too occupied to notice God’s grace. An emergency letter to Santa sets her on a quest for a Christmas miracle. With time running out, she prays for the first time in a long time. A miracle does happen, but it is not what she expected.

Thankful

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I sketched this up real quick on a poster board and am excited to see what my family writes on it tomorrow! Happiness is moving every single piece of furniture in your house to accommodate a large family 🙂

I like to write a quick Thankful post each year and I will continue to do so. Here is mine from last year. November is always a very busy month as I join NaNoWriMo and try to write a book in a month. Only a few days left! Eeep! November seems to be the month that I pull out all of my interests and struggle to make something from them. — I work more at the garden center arranging plants and flowers for Holiday preparation, I usually have an art show of some sort, I start working on Christmas songs with my guitar students, and I break out my measly cooking talents and try to mash a Thanksgiving meal together.— All while writing a book in a month.

I am thankful for my seeds of talents, wherever they are in the developmental stage. We’ve all got them. Some of our seeds are buried deep, some have grown and are beginning to bud, and some have fully blossomed. I’ve decided that talents first start as interests. Like, I have no interest in math or sports, therefore I am brain dead when it comes to math terms and incredibly uncoordinated with team sports. I have many interests and struggle and strive to turn them into talents. Planting the seeds, if you will.

I am convinced more and more that when someone has a great talent, they have sacrificed other talents to develop that one. I am also convinced that we can all be great, it’s just a matter of the focus and energy we put into it. To illustrate my point, here are a few examples:

Music – ah, music. I love music. I play guitar, piano, and a bit of violin. I listen to it all day long when I write. It touches my soul unlike anything else. There have been times I’ve listened to a song or paid attention to the lyrics and thought that I should have been a professional musician or songwriter. Ha! Like it’s some easy thing! I’ve found some seeds of interest scattered within myself and I strive to turn music into a talent by teaching what I’ve learned and by practicing a lot. If you’ve read my book Broken Smiles, you will see that the main character is basically living my dream.

Interior design – So, I’ve decorated things on a very large scale, so large in fact, that Disney came in and shot part of a T.V. series in my creation. I’ve decorated for countless parties with thousands of people, and smaller intimate parties in my home. I think sometimes that I should have been a professional interior decorator. Ha! Again, like it’s some easy thing. I’ve got the seeds planted and sometimes nurture that interest, but I wouldn’t say it’s a talent yet. Joanna Gaines from the TV series Fixer Upper is basically living my dream.

Art – This is a talent that always punches me in the gut and makes me feel guilty. Besides writing, nothing I create makes me happier than painting. I walk into museums and tears come to my eyes. I should have been a professional artist. I went to school for it, for heaven’s sake! I have had seeds planted for as long as I can remember. Sometimes I nurture the seeds and little buds or blossoms grow, but then something else captures my attention and my love for painting withers for a season.

But I never fully nurtured all those seeds of shoulda, woulda, coulda, and I’m okay with that. And I’m okay that someone else has developed those talents. In fact, I cheer them on and am truly happy when success comes back to them. Right now I am mainly nurturing one talent, and that is my writing. I don’t know what will ever come from it. I can hope and prepare and practice, and when the stars align, I pray to bless people’s lives with it, even if it is only one person – me.

Last week I watched an interview with the Piano Guys that was geared toward youth. I sat next to my children, their friends, and other youth in my neighborhood.

One of my favorite things I took away from the interview was:

“You don’t have to be a professional to bless those around you. You can do it in small ways. Pray for opportunities to use those talents that God has given you.”

Whether you have made a difference in hundreds, thousands, or even one person, the blessings come from when you’ve acknowledged your seeds of talent and nurtured them to bless others. It’s sharing those talents, no matter what stage they are in, that can bring you joy and give you self-confidence to continue on through the arduous task of practicing and learning to improve.

Another favorite from the interview was when one of the youth asked what to do when you struggle at not feeling good enough and are frustrated with trying to develop your talents.

Their answer, “Change it up. Try a different instrument, play different songs, then combine them all. There is meaning in all the small things we do. Small things beget great things.”

Yes, small things beget great things. Seeds turn into plants, that turn into blossoms, that others can enjoy.

After the interview the youth surrounding me said jealously, “I wish I could play like that. I wish I could make a difference. I wish, I wish, I wish.”

I wanted to shake them and say, “YOU CAN!”

It just takes nurturing the seed, whether it be one or several, that are already planted inside of you and to show your Thankfulness by developing those talents.

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Tara