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: **

IMG_8743

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.

*******

IMG_8793

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!*

IMG_1240

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

SaveSave

Thankful

During this weekend of Thankfulness and full heart, I reflect on what I am most grateful. The things which fill me with immeasurable joy are my husband, children, family, and friends. I know I can be a selfish creature, artists usually are. I have had many discussions at length about how the life of an author is all consuming and can leech from relationships if not placed in check.

eff6149d6e12ce92a4bcaa489c183c46

To illustrate my point, here are a couple examples:

While sitting at a restaurant on a long overdue date, my husband was telling me about his day and an exciting new client. Beside us sat a group of women who were obviously on a girls night out to escape from their daily lives. I found myself in the middle of two conversations. Nodding blankly at my husband, while listening to the fascinating dialogue between those women. Their dialogue was snappy, concise, and hilarious. My mind began to file away bits and pieces of their brilliant dialogue to use for future reference for a novel. My poor husband stopped talking and that is when my eyes focused on his grim set mouth.

“You aren’t even listening,” he said.

“I’m so sorry, please start over,” I replied as the women’s conversation vanished in a poof.

“No, the moment is lost now.”

And so it goes…

Another selfish experience was when I asked my husband for a kiss. I never need to ask for kisses, he just does. Anyway, he leaned in and brushed his lips against mine. I pulled back. “Add a bit more passion,” I said. He didn’t need to be asked twice. The kiss deepened and he placed one hand around the small of my back and another behind my head and pulled me in close. Good, I thought. But, hmm… what would happen next in the scene?

Oh I am terrible, I know. I wasn’t kissing my husband, I was recreating a scene for my work in progress. There must be some corner in heaven or hell reserved for people like me. I pulled back again and left my husband short of breath.

“Okay, now, graze your thumb over my lips.”

He lifted an eyebrow, but did as he was told.

“Not like that, maybe slower,” I said. I closed my eyes and my wonderful husband created the scene perfectly and even enhanced a few things. I mean, it was fantastic and exactly how I had imagined the scene in my novel to unfold. “Thanks!” I said, jumping back out of his fervent arms.

“Wait! You can’t just… leave me like this.”

I giggled and ran to my computer to write a scene that involved kissing and grazing a thumb over lips.

And so it goes…

My poor, wonderful husband and family are guinea pigs for my novels. That is so wrong, but the selfish part of me says it’s alright. I gather inspiration for love, joy and happiness from my family and loved ones. I gather inspiration for hate, anger, and hurt from the news, strangers, and painful memories. I grab bits and pieces for character development from people I admire or people I don’t care too much for. Then I place them into the puzzle of my novel along with the pieces of setting, theme, voice, and storyline.

I have really tried to be more thoughtful and conscious in my relationships. It is easy for everyone to get swept away in things that distract us from one another. Everywhere we turn, there are interferences with social media, TV, media, and for an author, it is the writing itself that puts you apart. I find myself constantly nagging my teenager to put down her smart phone and be with the family. I realized I was doing the same thing, only with stories in my head. Sometimes I have to consciously tell my mind to not focus on my fictional story and live my non-fiction life.

Above all, I am thankful for loving kindness from my family.

I am thankful to be a creator of life and art.

I am thankful for inspiring people and in turn, thankful that I may inspire others.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

-Tara