by J.T. Ellison
I’ve had one of those strange weeks, when good things shower down from the sky like raindrops, and I sit back and ask myself when the other shoe is going to drop.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as optimistic as they come. But sometimes, I worry that things are too good. Have you ever had that feeling?
And it’s funny, because that’s not how my week started. On Saturday, after reading Alex’s wonderful post, I was super bummed. I’ve been having an incredibly difficult time with this new book. The subject matter is hard to digest — one of those where I wonder what in the world I was thinking when I started it, no one is going to want to read about this… all the usual doubts creeping around. And those doubts can derail a writer pretty damn quick. As I’ve just experienced.
It’s not happened like this before. I’ve had moments of concern, worry that I wasn’t doing the right thing, but the story has always been paramount, and I knew deep down that it would be okay. This time… not so much. So I’ve been pouting, words trickling onto the screen. Not meeting my daily goals, fretting all the time. It’s just not ME.
So I read Alex’s post. Then I watched the U.S. Open.
I don’t know how many of you follow golf, but the Open this past weekend was unreal. Historic. Full of grace and power, hardships and triumphs. It was a battle, mano e mano, between two of my all time favorites – Tiger Woods and the "Walking Smile" Rocco Mediate. I’m a golfer, so I usually plant myself on weekends during the season to watch my guys shoot it out on the links.
Both of them, Tiger and Rocco, gave me inspiration this week.Thursday was the first time Tiger had walked more than nine holes since his most recent knee surgery. He hurt. He was in pain. So much pain that word came out Tuesday that he is done for the season, needing another surgery on his poor knee. You knew it hurt, could tell by the shortened stride, the grimaces and grunts when he took his shots. I am telling you, that took some serious
guts to finish the tournament.
And here comes Rocco, Mr. Smiley, jittery, jumpy guy who can’t settle
in his stance, giving the best golfer in the world a massive run for
his money.The lovely thing is I haven’t heard anyone grumbling about
this. All I’ve heard is pure, unadulterated pleasure at seeing two
athletes, who are good friends in real life, quiet and full of
concentration, battling it out on the links, forcing each other to new
heights of skill. Rocco pushed Tiger, Tiger pushed Rocco, and they gave
us 91 holes of pure joy. I honestly didn’t know who I wanted to win
more. I didn’t want either of them to lose. How often does that happen?
I saw an interview with Tiger Sunday night. They asked about the pain. He said:
"Pain. It’s just pain. It is what it is. You just work through it."
And I thought to myself:
"Block. It’s just writer’s block. It is what it is. You just work through it."
Because that’s what professionals do — they work through it. They Just. Do. It. No excuses. No BS. They work hard, even when it hurts, because that’s their job.
When I finished watching on Monday, I realized my anxiety was gone. I talked with my editor and she likes the premise for the book. I cut away some things that I realized were going to hold the story back. The story got too big, and it needs to be tamed a bit. We also had to do an excerpt for the back of JUDAS KISS, and what I sent wasn’t right for it. It’s the bane of the two books a year — you’re sending draft material that’s not ready for public consumption. I got worried all over again, but just as quickly we realized that I’d buried my lead (AGAIN. This is the third time I’ve had to move my third of fourth chapter to the forefront. I find it amusing, and heartening, to know that it’s just my way of doing it.)
Suddenly, everything clicked. I barreled through the halfway point. I’ve written over fifty pages of actual, usable story this week so far. HUGE sighs of relief. I haven’t forgotten how to do it after all. And I’m reminded again that writer’s block is your story telling you you’re going in the wrong direction.
Now we’ll see if I can actually type THE END on this sucker. My new mantra: JUST DO IT!
So between a historic golf match and a well-timed kick in the pants from Ms. Sokoloff, I’m feeling a little more optimistic at the end of this week than I did in the beginning.
I’d love to hear about your inspirations — those little bits of grace that fall unexpectedly and turn things around for you.
Wine of the Week: To fit with our grace and inspiration theme — a 2002 St. Francis Merlot from Sonoma