I have two mantras when it comes to writing. One is intentional. The other one…well, let’s just say I’ve said it to myself so many times, it’s an honorary mantra.
1: Make it happen. (This is me struggling to wake up extra early to write, realizing the world doesn’t care if I do or I don’t. It’s solely up to me.)
2: I hope I can pull this off.
Now that I think of it, I probably recite #2 more often than I care to admit. When I’m about to start a completely new draft of a story. When I get revision notes from my agent or editor. When I get more revision notes from my agent or editor. When I think of CHASING THE SUN actually being published. (That thought process goes something like: Yay! It’s going to be published and out there and people will read it! Then, OMG. It’s going to be published and out there and people will read it.)
Because the thing about writing a book and then getting it published is that there’s just so much we don’t know:
- Not where our ideas come from to begin with. (Can we officially put this question on a “do-not-ask” list at book readings? Because I have a feeling if any of us actually knew where ideas came from, we could make millions charging entrance fees.)
- Not if a good idea will turn out to be a great (or not-so-great) idea. It’s kind of a wait-and-see endeavor. And by wait-and-see, I mean write it out and see what develops. You may be surprised.
- We also don’t know, when faced with the massive task of revisions and rewrites, whether changes will actually make the story better or cause it to crumble like a Jenga puzzle.
- And we definitely do not know (though our mothers are absolutely convinced) that our books will become huge successes once published.
So why bother with it all? If writing and publishing a book is essentially a huge leap of faith, a terrifying journey into the unknown during which we may repeatedly boink into failure (as Lori so perfectly described yesterday) then why risk it?
I suppose it’s because we’re all adventurers at heart. Because life would be boring if we knew all the answers anyway. Because at least before we set sail we can draw ourselves a map and fool ourselves into thinking there’s a plan when really, the best part is discovering something beyond our wildest imaginations. Because we learn so much about ourselves and from others during the journey.
And because every time I tell myself I hope I can pull this off there’s another part of me that wants to come back to that moment and say Yes! Now what next?
What’s your mantra? What do you still not know about writing?