I really thought I’d find a better song title to go with this blog, but all month long when I closed my eyes I imagined myself as this little pudgy girl in a bee costume, trying to do her busy bee thing in a world that is hell bent on being the least helpful or welcoming of places.
I don’t know when my life exploded, but it did and I have been frantically trying to keep up while my little bee costume continues to degrade.
I’m sweaty, I’m tired, I’m beaten, I’m broken.
But I’m working on it.
While I don’t have much to show off, there has been so much good happening. And like, at the end of the “No Rain” video, my journey this month has most certainly ended in a sunny patch of land where all the other little bee people are happily dancing to my tune.
My last project was a book called Waiting for Autumn. I completed the first draft in February of 2017 and shopped it out to perspective agents and publishers. At first, the resounding response was that books of this nature are not on the current wish list. We were, and on some levels continue to be, on an upswing of politically driven, female empowered, diverse stories. There was no want or need for a small town sweet love story between two former high school friends who had to spend a decade apart to see what was right in front of their faces all along. Despite these rejections, they always came with encouragement of my writing style choices.
So, I shelved it. To everything there is a season, and like in the book, I would have to wait for the leaves to turn.
I began working on another story, and honestly struggled to get even one word on the page. It wasn’t for the lack of idea. I know the story. I know the story from beginning to end and everything in between. I know the characters, I know their names and what their deals are. I know what hurts them, and what they celebrate. They are as real to me as my own children are. Their backstory alone could be its own book.
But I’ve been sitting here staring at a blank page. For months. The reason for that is that this story is somebody else’s to tell. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert assures me that this happens to the best of us. Not all story ideas find the right writer, and we have to recognize it, and let it go.
I have to let these characters go. It sucks.
So I’ve been a little blue about the busy of my everythings in my day job, and the lack of progress in my dream job.
I am this little broken down busy bee who isn’t sure that she will be able to dance like she wants to or be seen like she wants to be.
But just as I was the most blue about my current state of things, I stumbled upon that sunny field and found all the other busy little bees.
I spent three days immersed in my writer world, and surrounded only by the people who have been exactly where I am right now. We spoke of characters as if they were real people and when I mentioned I have this full blown story stuck in my head but have no idea how to bring it to the page, I got a lot of nods of understanding.
Much to my surprise, my sweet little small town story that I nearly gave up on got some really high praise. Apparently, the season has changed and everyone would really like to have that sappy little love story that takes you away from the political and social noise of today’s world.
I got the chance to talk about it, and listen to professional opinions. Mixed in with the requests of tightening up story lines and pacing, I got some smiles. There were connections to characters, which made them real to more than just me. I continue to be told that my little moments of beauty are touching, and for that I am so thankful.
My meals were spent listening to other writers and what their journeys were. So many of them share the experience of having written multiple books before one had even been sold. We all wear these rejection letters as badges of honor, and remind ourselves that when these rejection letters come with advice it is because the agents and publishers see enough there to encourage us to keep working at this. Change could bring success.
Agents and editors stepped into our world and spent that time with us. I chatted with a few, finding the things outside the book world that bring us together. It was lovely to get to know them a bit, and amazing to have the chance to ask them their advice on what we can do to move to the next step. All of them, even the most intimidating, were so encouraging. And the one that I never thought I’d have a chance of leaving any sort of impression of happened to be the one who had the most to say about how well my first page read in a blind reading event.
And in the end, we all got dressed up in ridiculous costumes and had a drunken free for all evening of nothing but fun and games.
It was the best ever.
My husband asked me if I had taken any pictures. I had not. While there, I noticed that very few people were taking any pictures, if any at all. This was three days where I believe everyone was one hundred percent present. They were there to be there, and had shut out the world so they could soak it all up.
So that’s what I did. I soaked it up.
I come home more encouraged than I’ve been in months. The story that I loved when I wrote it, which had been shelved and was beginning to collect dust is now fresh out on my desktop. The town is a bustle with movement and my characters starting up their conversations once more. They clamor with ideas of what to change and what to keep and oh by the way, these couple things happened while you weren’t looking….
To all you busy little bees out there….keep on dancing.
Stay with me, and I’ll have it made.