Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Power of a Good Book

I was recently working under a more fun deadline than usual. More fun only because it had a reward.

Back in March, I read Love on the Mend. At the end of the novella was a preview of the author’s next book. This was a few chapters of a book that had not yet been released. I almost didn’t read it on principle. Offering up a few chapters of a book months before a person can read the rest of that book is, in my opinion, just plain mean.

I read it anyway because I knew I would like it. Then I looked at the calendar. That’s what I do. I’m a planner. I like to know what’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen, and exactly how I can make sure it will happen on schedule. According to my planning, the June release of the full book, A Worthy Pursuit, appeared to coincide with me finishing the first draft of the second book in my new series. I decided that I would reward myself for that milestone by reading Ms. Witemeyer’s book.

Almost as soon as I made that decision, my plan began to fall apart. A big chunk of the first book, Said and Unsaid, wasn’t working for me. Backward progress is not good, but it had to be done. I took time to reimagine a few of the main character’s qualities. I ripped out two characters and tossed in two completely different – but I hope better – ones. It was a mess and I ended up with missing chapters near the end of the book that I couldn’t seem to write. They were supposed to be done before my kids had a three-week break from school. They were not done. The kids were home. My neatly formed schedule was chaos.

Did I mention the insomnia?

I do suffer from occasional insomnia, but it doesn’t have anything to do with falling behind. I just thought I’d put that out there in case I wasn’t getting enough sympathy.

When A Worthy Pursuit was released on June 2nd, I hadn’t even started the draft I was supposed to finish before I could read it. That’s right. Hadn’t. Even. Started.

But I was not ready to admit defeat. I found a way to buy myself time to possibly make some form of my deadline. My local library had several copies of the book. And a waiting list for them. I put myself on that list. If I chose to read one of those copies, any delay in reading the book had nothing to do with me failing to do what I said I’d do. I was simply waiting my turn. It couldn’t be helped. I still had time.

I put my head down and got to work on that draft. Other library patrons proved unfortunately considerate though. They may have simply been fast readers, but I was moving up that list awfully quickly for no one to be aware of those waiting. I kept writing and tried not to panic.

I still had a lot of work to do when my turn came up. I went and checked out that book anyway. There was still a chance I could meet the deadline. It was concrete now though. The library gave me two weeks. I wouldn’t need more than two days to read the book and that meant I had twelve to finish my draft or one of two things was going to happen. I could admit defeat and send the book back unread while I continued working then check it out later. Or I could admit defeat and read the book undeservingly. The second option felt much more likely. Especially now that A Worthy Pursuit was sitting on my counter daring me to read just one more chapter before I went back to work.

I resisted by hiding the book.

And now the good news. I did it! I finished that draft. It needs a lot of work, but that’s okay. I have a schedule for getting it up to scratch. ;) It was technically a few days into July when I put down my pen. But I finished with just enough time to read the book and return it on its due date.

Now I owe Karen Witemeyer a big thank you for providing a book that gave me the motivation to work on my own and that was a worthy reward even with all the buildup. And look at this. I got a blog post out of it, too! Aren’t books great?

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