By Sandra Heska King
My first novel-to-be stalled last summer.
Then I took a hammer to it.
I haven’t even made writing goals for this year.
Well, except for pouring out words almost daily on my blog.
June. I think June will be a good time.
I had goals last year, but they dried up.
I know. I know. I should have been just planting butt in chair.
Right through my daughter’s major surgery and recovery.
Right through caring for grandgirls.
Right through worry over my dad’s brain hemorrhage.
Right through planning a wedding.
Right through discovering my mom had an aggressive brain cancer.
Right through the months of caring for her until she died shortly before Christmas.
Right through getting ready for a holiday I’d have preferred to ignore.
Right through the exhaustion.
If I’d done that, I’d have finished that novel. I’d be ready to enter Genesis now.
That was my goal.
But I’ve decided to be gentle with myself.
To be more than do for a season.
Because then I might be more effective in the doing.
So I’ve created a six-step plan for the next six months.
Well, the sixth step will begin the sixth month.
1. Step Away. Not from writing altogether. But from the novel itself. Oh, I’ll still let the story percolate. I might I’ll probably scribble a few notes. I might I’ll probably do some reading. But I’m going to let me rest. Enter the no-pushing zone for a spell.
“Writing starts with living,” writes L.L. Barkat in Rumors of Water. “Living starts with somebody caring so much about something that they need to drag you out of your chair and take you where you’ll be surprised to find your words.”
I’m that somebody that cares. I’m going to drag myself out of my chair and find my words.
2. Sit. Not at my desk. Not at my keyboard. Outside. Or at least by the window. Every day. Maybe work my way through L.L. Barkat’s God in the Yard again. She sat outside for an hour every day. For a whole year. Even in the snow on her red sled.
I don’t have a red sled.
But I know that I can bring more depth to my writing if I sit a bit with my grief and with the events of the past year.
3. See. Not just see. But dive deep. To look for miracles in the mundane moments.
4. Stretch. I’m going to get my body moving again. I really haven’t been taking very good care of myself.
5. Simplify. My word for the year is “order.” A cluttered home leads to a cluttered head. I was gone for several months last year, and this place is a mess. Yeah, I’ll blame being gone. I also need to simplify my time-complete current commitments but then cull.
6. Sit. By June, I see my butt in chair again. And maybe I can still finish that novel by the end of this year.
Sandra Heska King is a wife, mom, grandma, and a nurse. Her great-grandfather and great-great grandfather were both lumberjacks, and she grew up on Paul Bunyan stories. Today she lives in the same 150-year-old farmhouse where her husband grew up. She is currently working on an historical novel set in Michigan in the early 1900s.