The Serenity Prayer: Or, When the Best Laid Plans Disintegrate

SAM_0492Even the best laid plans—made with the very best of intentions—can crumble into pieces when you least expect it. The plans I had for this week fell victim to…well…life.

They were good plans, too. Revisions for upcoming school workshops. Reading for my upcoming residency. Home improvements galore. Running longer and faster than ever. You name it, I had it planned for this week.

But when you make plans, the gods laugh at you apparently.

A family illness intervened. So did the weather (painting the back porch stairs has flown out the window, alas). A new writing assignment came my way, for which I’m extremely grateful.

It’s been one of those weeks where nothing went quite as I expected it to.

So, I’m trying to do something I’m woefully bad at: letting go. I’m attempting to let go of the stress over not getting everything done. Of the guilt for not being able to do any single thing with all my heart because my heart was in too many places at once. Of the need to do everything with what frankly amounts to an unhealthy need for perfection.

I’m going to have a cup of tea. And I’m going to eat some of these very delicious grain-free chocolate chip cookies. And I’m going say the Serenity Prayer (or at least some secular version thereof) and try to accept that some things are completely out of my control—and that, in the end, that’s really okay.

Let’s (Re)Start at the Very Beginning

Throughout my entire life, I have loved The Sound of Music. I don’t mean that I enjoy it, or appreciate it in some detached way—I seriously love it. So when I sat down to write this post, I fully expected to put a lovely clip of the original movie in it.

Then I saw this.

It’s extremely difficult not to love this dance in an Antwerp train station. Sure, the flash mob thing has been done to death. But there’s a real exuberance here that’s impossible to resist. From the gentleman who rather enthusiastically begins it all, to the people flowing down the staircase, to the dudes in business suits giving it their all, this is a wonderful re-imagining of the original.

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to include this song in the first place. I’ve been working on the same draft of the same YA story for a long, long while now. It’s been, at times, exhilarating, exhausting, tedious, and downright wonderful. But now, the time has come to lay this draft to rest and start at the very beginning once again.

I admit, this is a little intimidating.

As I said, it took a long time to get here, and there blood, sweat, and tears have been shed along the way. But the story has evolved since I first began it, and I know now—which I didn’t when I started—much more about these characters and where I want their story to go.

This is not easy work. But it’s where the real guts of the story develop—the devil is in the details, but also in the revision, and I mean that in a good way.

So, on this lovely Friday morning (no snow at last!), I’m ready to enthusiastically throw myself back in and give this revision all that I can.

But I might need to watch that video one more time for inspiration….

In Praise of Writing Groups

At the moment, I am in two distinct writing groups. One is of quite long standing, one that has only just started up. One group gets together at pubs and restaurant where we spend hours talking about life and writing. One connects over email and Skype, allowing us to talk despite the miles between us. Both met this week.

I love writing group. Not only do I love the amazing and talented ladies in both groups, but I also admire and respect their opinions, and am endlessly grateful for their feedback on my writing. I’m also kind of in awe of their writing. Did I mention that they are talented ladies?

Sangria, tapas, catching up on life, books, gossip, you name it…and then there are the critiques.

The thing is, even aside from getting to spend time with some of my favorite people, I inevitably come away with hoards of ideas about how to revise a given piece of writing. Over the past week, for me that’s meant lots of ideas on how to rework two different picture book manuscripts.

All of which leaves me excited about revisions (did I just say that?)—and eager for next month’s meetings!