I’ve arrived at one of those “If someone had told me a year ago, I’d be here/doing this” moments. Do you do that? Look back, I mean. Pick an arbitrary point and see the recent past unrolled behind you like a tapestry and marvel how much things can change in such a short period? I do. And I’m always relieved that reflection’s opposite isn’t possible, that the laws of physics deny me the power of foresight, for I couldn’t bear knowing what the future holds. Even if its palm extends to offer me what I wish for. And a year ago, that wish was to write full-time.
I don’t believe things happen for a reason. As in, there is no grand scheme for our lives with the wonderful and the wretched meted out by an omnipresent deity. I’m more in the “Shit Happens” camp. I believe we create reason from the compost. That doesn’t stop me from praying, of course. But by the time I get into prayer mode, the shit is already happening, so I guess prayer is just an attempt to create reason, with hope and desperation mixed in.
I do believe in paying attention to the little shifts that are the universe’s way of trying to get our attention. Not a full yanking of the rug out from under our feet, just the tugs that keep us off-balance. Wait, doesn’t that mean I believe things happen for a reason, that there is an omnipresent…something? No, I think it’s a matter of opening oneself up to possibility, of casting one’s intentions into the wide world and then listening and watching carefully for the ripples of circumstance that follow in our wake.
So, things happened. The past year is what it is. We wrested control from circumstances not of our creation, we recognized the grace of opportunity, we leaped and we landed. I’m not writing full-time because of all that happened. I’m writing full-time because this was the reason we created from the compost. Be careful what you wish for.
Scrivener tells me I have three days. Three days to reach my goal of 78,0000 words on this novel. It’s a date and word count I set just over a year ago, not long after I wrote this post, here: Today was the day.
I wasn’t certain–with a full-time job, a shaky idea of my plot, all that research on medieval France, a writing habit that wasn’t yet habit–what I could hope to complete in just over twelve months. I wasn’t certain how many words constituted a full-length novel. So, August 1, 2013. 78,000 words. Sounded reasonable.
The goal date held steady. August 1 looms. But that word count? I recall upping it to 82,000 in the fall. Then 98,000. 105,000. 115,00. There, that should do it. The target bar in Scrivener shifted from red to orange to yellow and various shades of green as I approached 115,000.
Earlier this month I crested 130,000 words. There is no color shift in Scrivener when you exceed your target. That bar just glows a steady green. Good Girl, it says. You did it.
Since then, I’ve embarked on First Draft, Revision B and in the slicing and dicing and rewriting, I’m in the neighborhood of 126K. That’s about 330 pages of a novel, if you’re wondering.
I didn’t set a goal of finishing a novel in a year. Thank goodness. Because I’m not finished. Good God. I have months of revision ahead of me. But it’s all there–beginning, middle, and mostly the end. I’m muddling through the final third. Some days I run in place, others I leap hurdles. I try not to think ahead, not to worry about where I will be in a month or in a year.
But I do wonder.
Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.
– Gloria Steinem
Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.