Usually the shower helps. Usually, when I’m having a writing crisis, a nice hot shower clears the head and puts things in perspective. But today I toweled off knowing for certain that the last 63,000 words were trite rubbish. I would be better off hitting the delete button and getting real job.
Being so close to the finish line – seeing its faint glimmer in the distance – has stopped me cold. Why all this self-doubt now? Am I afraid of finishing?
Over the last 48 hours I’ve recognized that I’ve been arguing with the direction Maggie’s story has wanted to take. The members of my critique group, my writing teacher, my friends and yoga clients – even the real Margaret Phelan Taylor – all believe my book is about a young girl who joins the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots. Until this morning, even I believed that. And I hate to disappoint people.
But the truth is stories and characters take on a life of their own and in the words of my pilot character Sam, “This isn’t about you, Maggie!” I can see the stories of Ben and Tom – Maggie’s friends – are as equally important as Maggie’s. Their stories add a depth and richness to the book. Adding their story broadens the scope of the book and changes the focus. It becomes a story about choice and discovering the meaning of ‘home’.
It’s funny how just a few weeks ago I felt nothing could stop me. No hurdle was too high, no schedule too daunting. ‘Piece of cake’ I thought. Yeah. Right.
But you know what? It’s all right. I’m down from the ledge. The “delete” button is out of bounds. The book will be finished – heck, it better be – after almost twelve months and at least a million tries I finally have a title: When We Come Home.
Will it be finished by November? I can’t answer that. I hope so. It’s still my goal. But I know that I also have to allow the process to be a little bit more organic. And maybe that’s what these past few weeks have been about – learning that setting a writing schedule is crucial for personal discipline, but being too rigid can smothers hope.