I started writing my current book in January. January through mid April I wrote my first draft. After taking the rest of April off to finish my other projects and finals, I also decided to give myself May as a free, non-writing month to recover from grad school and catch up on feeling like a normal person. June and July have been revision months, and now I am into August. And in terms of writing and revising a book, the accumulation of these months don't really represent that long of a time frame. Some books take much longer to write, for a variety of very important reasons. But yet, even though it hasn't been that long, I am getting antsy. I am ready to wrap up my project, take a short break, and move to the next one.
Here's a funny story from this week. At work, my friend and I often talk about our evenings plans. So one day she asked me, "What are you doing tonight?" I said, "Oh, I am going to go hang out with Pearl. We're going to dinner." And my friend looked at me like I had lost my mind, because the name of my main character in my current novel is Pearl. Quickly, I understood her thought process and said, "No! Not that Pearl. A real person Pearl."
I tell this anecdote because the truth is that my fictional Pearl and my project have become such an integrated part of my life over the past few months, that I easily understood why my friend was momentarily confused. I love my current novel. After all this time, I still do — which I think is a great sign. But even with my enthusiasm for fictional Pearl, I can feel myself growing weary. I am ready to produce a polished, finished project and start on something new.
Honestly, I think in some ways this is a good thing. It is encouraging to know that I am looking forward to the next project; that I still have a strong enthusiasm for writing and ideas and creating something new. All of that is a great sign. But much like the rest of life, I think it is important not to rush forward, focusing on the end goal and forgetting to enjoy what is going on in the here and now. I know I am certainly someone guilty of this, in writing and in my day to day.
But as I think about all the work I've done with this novel, I can truly say that I've really enjoyed it. Along the way, I've learned and grown and sharpened my craft, but I've also laughed and felt for my characters and lost myself in the story. And honestly, if I can get pleasure reading my story as if I wasn't the creator, and if I can know that sometimes, after a mediocre day, I find myself uplifted by my story, and thankful for the work I get to do and the way it makes me feel, then I need to cherish those moments — to remind myself that even though there are days when I am tired or working so hard and just want to reach the end goal, the creation is important to. The process of writing matters, just as the finish product matters.
So as I find myself antsy this weekend, and racing toward the end goal, I need to remember to enjoy the process. Because of course I want to finish and wrap it up and send it out into the world with hope that someone might believe in it. But I've realized that when it is all said and done, I might just find myself wishing it all hadn't gone so fast.