First Draft Issue 10: Best laid plans
A little news:
Please excuse this self-indulgence, but I discovered the first media review of Endpapers, in Publishers Weekly, and I'm excited to share these kind words with you!
Also, my AWP Writer-to-Writer mentor, Amy Wallen, has a fantastic new book out: How to Write a Novel in 20 Pies. It's all about the writing journey from drafting to publishing — and eating pie! Learn more and order it here! It would make a great gift too :)
This weekend I went to Boston to see my niece in BU's Boston on Broadway production of The Drowsy Chaperone. I'd been looking forward to it for weeks — not only to seeing my niece but to visiting Boston for the first time, spending a weekend mostly alone with my husband, and just getting away for a few days.
I had dreams of a perfect Boston day, wandering the halls of the Museum of Fine Arts, eating fancy vegan food, and enjoying long walks through the city.
And then my back went out. I decided to push through, so I still went to Boston, but as you can imagine, long walks and a day in a museum were out of the question. But it was okay because we made backup plans!
Once we got there, however, a whole host of logistics-gone-wrong foiled our precious backup plans. First was my UBER failure (I live in a smallish town, so I'd never bothered to install it until I needed it — big mistake). Then we got stuck in traffic, unable to find a parking spot for over an hour. We headed to a different neighborhood and found a garage, but by the time we parked, it was way past lunchtime and the destination I'd had in mind didn't have any appealing food choices.
Fortunately, my back was feeling strong enough that I could walk a bit, so we headed toward Chinatown, where there was a vegan Thai place. It was then that, finally, everything turned around. I was so happy to walk the streets of Boston with my husband and just be part of the everyday energy, and the Thai place, though not the fancy restaurant I'd planned for, had an amazing fully vegan menu full of all sorts of things we can't get at home.
In short, it turned out to be the perfect Boston experience.
What does any of this have to do with writing? Well, as my husband and I walked back to our car, I thought about how the day had gone much like a first draft. We've all been there. We start out with an exciting idea and imagine how amazing this thing is going to be! And then we start writing and suddenly we're stuck in traffic, hangry, back aching, no idea when we're going to get to the good part or if it's ever coming.
But if we hold on, something always steers it back on course. It was a perfect and much-needed reminder as I look forward to continuing work on a shiny new novel in the coming months.
So this lesson of mine has become my hope for you this week. If you're working on something that's not going as planned and you're getting frustrated, try looking for the fun detours and the treasures that await you off the beaten path. Our work almost never goes the way we hope or expect it will, but we can turn it around with a little (okay a lot of) patience and an open mind.
Have some fun thinking about what you can do to turn things around. Meanwhile, I look forward to next time!