Math and other difficult things


I haven’t updated the blog recently, and there’s a good reason for this. At the request of my managing editor for my ghostwriting gig I’ve switched from ghostwriting historical fictions and new adult works to the plots team.

I never plot my own work. Asha in Time? Didn’t know how that would end until the day before I finished the first draft. Autumnal Dancer? There was no planned ending since the book itself sort of came out of nowhere. I’ve always written. I hadn’t foreseen sharing anything with the world. I feel like I have to meet my characters, flesh them out in chapters, discover how they would respond to crisis before I can know how their story should wrap up.

So I balked a bit when I was asked to move to plotting. In fifteen hundred words, a quick character summary, and a chapter outline I have to tell another writer a story with a beginning, gripping middle, and satisfying end. Then I have to let it go, let another person fill in the little details that make a story and a character feel real to an audience. I balked so hard I asked my editor if I’d done something wrong, something to make her want me to be a planner and not an author. She’d encouraged me that I’d done nothing wrong, that it was the opposite. She said she liked my ideas so much she wanted to get them worked on asap, quicker than one person can produce. Thus, I clenched my teeth and made the switch, not at all certain I could actually fulfill her request.

Here’s a thing about me- one of my personal character flaws that stings to admit. I don’t like it when things are hard. Not at all. I get easily frustrated and overwhelmed with a big project.

For example, the day my husband and I moved into our first house, newlyweds and excited about taking that next step, I ended the night sitting on the floor in our new master bedroom, tears in my eyes, completely convinced we’d made a terrible decision. Here we were, surrounded by mountains of boxes, organizational needs and endless little projects adding up on an ever growing list. I felt like I couldn’t move. My husband looked on with the sort of dread only a confused man can get while watching a woman he loves grow inexplicably emotional. In hindsight it was a little funny. In the moment it was just a reflection of how difficult everything seemed. He started working around me until our bed was built, our dresser was in place, and the curtains were hung. He made sure that night I went to sleep in a room that looked like a room and not a warehouse. I’ve told you I love him, right? I do. It was that little slice of doneness that made me able to get up and keep unpacking the rest of the house the next day, to do the painting and the changing of fixtures, and the inevitable several runs to the hardware store.

I don’t like math. Actually, I don’t understand its finer concepts. It’s too damn hard. I remember sitting with my mother, middle school textbook open before us, and reading word problems about Johnny and his two friends Mark and Sarah and dividing the seventeen apples they had between the three of them evenly. Then something about how long the slicing of the apples would take on a train traveling exactly one hundred miles an hour with a planned stop at 4:45 pm. Maybe I made the last part up. I’ve purposely tried to put my math book days behind me. Anyway, I remember being like, “Where did the apples come from and who picked more? Doesn’t it matter how the labor went down? ‘Cuz if I picked seven more apples than Mark the slacker I’m sure going to take home more apples. Whose idea was it to split them evenly anyways?” My mom did her best to not scream through her exasperation. If it were me I’d be like, “Shut up and solve the damn problem! There’s two more inane word problems to go and The Big Bang Theory is coming on in ten minutes!” Patience. I’m working on it. It’s hard too.

Writing for me is easy, relaxing even. I’ve always done it and, as long as my eyes see clearly, I will probably always do it. Plotting, plotting is hard. It’s hard to see an ending at the beginning. It’s hard to remember that the details, they’re not my job. My job is to be concise, to hit the main plot events and move on. It’s hard. So far I’ve completed thirteen plots under the assignment. It’s difficult, a constant challenge, but I really like it. I think I’m becoming a better writer, more aware of the way a story should flow, because of it.

I think that’s the difference between things just being difficult and things being a challenging part of something you love. I love writing. I love getting that check and knowing I earned it. I earned it on my talent, the thing that I’ve worked on and sacrificed for and grown from. It’s hard but I can do it. I’m doing it.

If there’s something out there that’s holding you back, some part of something you’ve been dreaming about but not daring to do, I say go for it. I believe in you. Dig in, stay focused, and work, work, work.

On a side note, however, I’ll never like math. Johnny and Slacker Mark can take their train apples and shove them. 🤷🏻‍♀️


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