Below is the draft of a post I began a little over a year ago but never published – or even finished.
I’m publishing it now (unrevised!) as a note-to-self that change is always possible, if you want it enough. One year on, the second draft of my novel is complete and with an editor, and at last I am content with the way my writing is going. If you’d told me that last spring, I would have laughed at the very notion.
Easy Does It (Draft Post From March 2014)
Is this the lamest writing target ever?
100 words. Per day.
You’d think that, filled with the joys of spring, I’d be forging ahead with my novel faster than ever. Not so, I’m afraid.
It’s hard to believe that I once wrote 10,000 words in 10 hours – though that surge back in 2012 is at the root of the present go-slow almost two years later.
That marathon (for me!) writing stint was the last, desperate race to meet another target: finish the first draft of my novel by the end of July. I did, with literally minutes to spare, but what I gained in word count I lost in description, dialogue and character development.
I can say from experience that it’s possible to write too fast!
That first draft was finished, but far from complete – and I’m paying for it now, as I slog through endless revisions requiring not so much editing as new writing, and even new plotting.
Though of course, they won’t really be endless. Even at the funereal rate of 100 words per day, I know I will finish eventually. Which makes me happy – what more can I say?
But as that final paragraph shows, it wasn’t all doom and gloom back in those dark days of 2014. I did, at least, glimpse a ray of hope for the future. And for perhaps the first time in my writing life, that hope was justified.★
Evidence that superstitious woo can infect the hardest-headed tomes: I was reading a diabetes management book packed with practical advice on coping with the physical and emotional consequences of the condition, when the authors suddenly started banging on about how we mustn’t neglect our “spiritual” side.
OK, they did concede (once, and very briefly) that being spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean doing religion, but when they listed their action plan, what was number one? You guessed it: prayer. Swiftly followed by “visit your place of worship”. Their thesis being that people with chronic illness can put their problems into perspective – and presumably find meaning in the vagaries of life – by the simple means of acknowledging the existence of something greater than them.
It’s not just these particular authors or this particular book, of course. The notion is widespread – pretty much taken for granted – that our lives will be improved if we attend to the spiritual, if we believe there exists “out there” something bigger and better than our puny little selves.
At the risk of sounding bigheaded (and let’s face it, we humans are already far too arrogant for own – or anyone else’s – good), why should there be anything greater than us (or any one of the trillion other living beings with which we share this planet)? And why can’t we live a fulfilled life without it? What is it within ourselves that we lack? Doesn’t it denigrate us all, believing we are somehow less than… less than what, exactly?
If there is something greater than each one of us, maybe it’s the fact that we have, as a species, arrived at a stage in our evolution where we can (begin to) understand the Universe in which we live and appreciate our (minuscule) place in it.
Our collective curiosity, our will to knowledge, our capacity for scientific enquiry… surely that is something worth looking up to.
Or as I like to think of it, a non-spiritual way to nurture the spirit.★
Image by ArchBob