Monday, April 09, 2007

Rx for Revisions--Take a Rest

You've heard it before, I suppose. Between drafts of your novel, it is SOOOO important to "take a rest."

Writers use different terms to describe this. Some liken their novels to loaves of bread. During the drafting or rewriting stage, the writer is pounding, shaping, and generally getting all his or her aggressions out on the page (not that I would know anything about that!) But after the draft is completed, it's time to put that novel in a safe place and let it rest before working through it again. I've also heard writers call this practice "putting the novel on ice." That poor manuscript is probably pretty overheated now, with all that poking, prodding, and wrestling to the ground. The metaphor is different but the concept the same--give the novel a rest.

Well, I'm at that stage now with TINK. I've finished a draft and now it's time to let it rest. It's perfect timing, really; Thing One and Thing Two are on Spring Break this week, so I wouldn't have the time OR concentration to work on it this week. How perfect is it that I can use the vacation just to laze around? I'm reading a lot, too--just filling my head with good stuff.

It is interesting since I began paying a lot of attention to that still, small voice. Lots of fascinating things begin to happen. I've taken to summoning that voice when I sit down to write and that voice seemed to know my schedule and timed everything perfectly. I don't question. I just say Thank You.

For example, in the last several months, we were looking for a specific type of puppy to bring home to our family--a Cavalier King Charles spaniel. We even printed up a picture of this type of dog and pasted it on a money jar to sock away cash to pay for the puppy.

Then, we became quite frustrated with the difficulty in finding a breeder who adhered to the breeding protocols of this breed. This breed tends toward health problems if not bred properly. As a consequence, there is a shortage of this breed. The breeders who also show their dogs have waiting lists of over a year long--that's if they even have time to reply to your emails (many don't; we know, we tried!). Believe me, there are breeders/puppy mills who take advantage of this! Some puppies are even imported from Ireland to fulfil the demands. Can you imagine putting a 7-week-old puppy on a plane from freakin' IRELAND to CALIFORNIA to sell?

Well, long story short, we gave up on finding a breeder of Cavaliers and moved to another breed. We couldn't find a breeder who had THAT breed available right now, either! (There are plenty of sharks in the sea, though... I would not recommend ANYONE buy a dog on the Internet! ALWAYS insist you see where the puppy lives and meet the pup's mom and if possible, dad).

Meanwhile, I had begun spending time quietly meditating each night. I have been practicing prayer to my own Higher Power for some time--as for meditation, I am not sure I knew what it was. I had bought a book which told me I needed to make a sacred, special place to meditate in my house. I could not think of a place. Therefore, I didn't bother.

For some reason, I began using my relaxing bathtime to meditate. I don't do anything special, only lie in my bath and listen to my heart beating in my ears, concentrating only on that. It is amazing how clear the mind becomes when I "clean it out" in this way. Many of my friends talk about "The Committee." The Committee are a set of voices in our heads which tell us (in varying tones) we aren't good enough, those ideas are stupid, we suck in our chosen profession, the world is out to get us, people think we are fat, we ARE fat, we will never succeed, we are just so different and freakish that we are Doomed For Life. And at its most evil and dangerous, The Committee may even mention that we oughtn't even to bother staying clean and sober because we aren't addicts and/or alcoholics after all.

I'm onto The Committtee's game so I know what to do if they start yelling. I use my Phone a Friend card, read some useful publications which I own, go for a walk, et cetera. But here is the interesting part--I have found that The Committee takes a long coffee break when I do things like practice meditation. Sometimes they will even go out for a long lunch--or, if I am supremely lucky, take the whole freakin' day off.

So, this particular evening, The Committee were nowhere to be found--and I wasn't about to go looking for them. That still, small voice informed me that the puppy issue would work itself out if I only did one thing... LISTEN. A few days later, a friend of mine shared the fact that her dog had had puppies! On the long shot I asked her if she was selling any of them, and what breed the dog was.

They were Cavalier King Charles puppies. Both parents free from health problems, and the mom had been bred two years ago and those puppies were all healthy too. Can you believe it? And God willing, we will be bringing one home in about five weeks.

Since I have allowed that still, small voice its time to speak in my life--very fascinating things have begun to happen. I am so very grateful.