Carol, take a break!
But do you know what I've wanted to hear?
“Keep going, keep going! You can do it! Don't surface 'til it's done!”
To be sure, I've heard that, too (at least the keep going part). And let me tell you, that is music to my unattached earlobe ears. But the “take a break”? That's kind of annoying. You know why? Because everything inside me is already screaming it loud and clear.
Do you know what my fear is? Let me outline it for you in terms of a little dialogue:
Andy: Hey, I was thinking you could take a little break today, and maybe we could go rent a movie, eat some popcorn, snuggle....
Carol: I don't know. I have so much work to do yet. And I'm so close!
Andy: Come on, you know you want to.
Andy: Hey, I know you never got back to work, but last night was fun, huh?
Carol: Yeah, it was nice. Desperate to get some chapters done, though.
Andy: I was thinking maybe we could go into town today, catch a film, maybe some dinner....
Carol: Andy, please. I have to work.
Andy: Come on, Carol, you've been working so hard. Give yourself a break. Kids miss you!
Carol: Think I'll take a break today. I'm tired.
Andy: Sounds good. Let's have some friends over after work. We'll BBQ.
Carol: Why do I feel so tired? Think I'll skip the book today.
Andy: You sure? You're so close.
Carol: I'll get back to it someday.
Carol: What's this? Oh gosh, my old book. Stupid idea anyway.
Now, is it likely to happen that way? No.
But I'm a bit OCD about certain things. Especially dreams. And this is one of them.
The thing is, not all dreams are attainable, right? Some are passing whims, and others, we really do want, but they're ludicrous. Like, I'll probably never be able to marry Gerard Butler (unless they overturn bigamy laws, and I lose my conscience—notice how I didn't say anything about the likelihood of meeting him...dreams....). I'll never tour with Snow Patrol, and I'll never have my own reality show featuring my nineteen children—wait, that's not my dream.
But some dreams, you have FOREVER. You can't remember not having had them, and they won't go away. For years, I've tinkered at my computer, writing little stories, articles, whatever. I've started many books, but never with any real sort of attachment. I went to school for writing. I taught writing. I've made writing a mission, always with passion, but never dedication.
And then one day, July 2, 2009, I was washing up—hubby was drying—and I said, “Oh. I have an idea.” I started talking. We finished the dishes, headed into the office, and we sat for hours while I talked out my idea. The next day, I sat down at my computer, started taking notes, and began to write. I did not come up for air for 2 weeks, except for when I heard some whining, like “Mommy, we're starving!” And then Andy said, “Carol, movers arrive in 2 days. We're leaving the country.”
Yeah, I'm totally serious about that. I'd been so absorbed, I'd set aside the whole notion that we were moving back to America. And so, the movers arrived, and I holed up on the floor of our safe room and kept writing. I wrote on the plane until the laptop battery ran out, and then I wrote by hand. We moved into our new house and I wrote. School started...piano lessons, dance, guitar, dental appointments, doctor's visits, and still I wrote. I stopped long enough to have some minor surgery, and then I wrote. I wrote in every conceivable place in every conceivable way. It was inconceivable (yeah, I like the Princess Bride, too). And then, September 7, I was done.
Two rejections later and some research, and I realized my book is toooooooo big. Gotta cut 60,000 words or no one will touch it. So far, I've cut 45,000 words. Oh, the agony. And still, I've hardly surfaced for air. But I'm so close.
So, will I take a break? Soon. When I'm finished. I'm not a magician; I can't write a book without writing. And some dreams just grab hold and won't let go (especially if you're obsessive, like me). Thankfully, I have understanding family and friends. Or I'd be a very lonely, obsessive writer.
You know, it's only in books that dreams are fulfilled by accident.
What's your dream? Make it an obsession.