When I was getting ready this morning, I walked into my closet and gazed longingly at my boots. My winter, to-the-calves, completely-inappropriate-for-summer boots. Three pairs, all colors, black, grey and tan. I wished I could wear them.
I got dressed, and only then did I look outside. And smiled. It was cool outside! Overcast! Dare I say, even dank! I was thrilled. Immediately yanked off my stupid skirt and top and gleefully slid into a pair of stretch pants, a sweater dress, and BOOTS! Okay, true confession is I didn't wear the boots, since my other flats looked way cuter. Whatever. The point is the simple change in the weather validates that we are in the middle of change and for the first time in at least a couple years, I am embracing all of it.
Our country is about to change, my life has dramatically changed since I started my new job nine months ago (I don't think I can still keep calling it "new" nine months after the fact, but it still feels so shiny!), and I believe my writing is changing. It all makes me kind of giddy.
Now, let me explain how monumental this is. I don't exactly embrace change. I'll give you a couple of examples: I never change my mind after I choose my outfit for the day. At certain restaurants, I have the same exact thing off the menu every single time. See, I appreciate structure, discipline, control. I'm a Scorpio. We may be passionate, yes, but we also crave order. So, if you were describing an author like this, certainly she would be a plotter, right? Nope. You would be wrong.
I have published seven novels and in each one I was a "pantser" of the highest order. Flying by the seat of my pants, I had NO CLUE at all where the story would start, arc, and finish until I opened the laptop. My muse, Musina, has tolerated this "blinders-on" attitude for a couple of years, while waiting for me to come to my own understanding with my control, or lack-of-control issues. Most of this came about due to the unstable nature of my personal life. Unemployed, bummed out, and financially stressed, writing was an outlet. I could be as free as I wanted and boy, was I. I love the stories I wrote during this period; they are indicative of my desire to escape, in a way. But, as I mentioned, change is in the air, and I have been breathing deeply and craving the koolaid.
My most recent manuscript, and even the one just published this month, are an indication of that change. With Waterdancer, published the first week of September, I found for the first time, I needed a character roster. Then I wrote a few "notes" on my iphone to which I referred periodically. With the current manuscript I am shopping, The Deadlies, I had a character roster, "notes", and even a couple of story arcs written down. I think there is a correlation to my new found stability and my level of trust in myself. The Deadlies is different than anything I have written and I am desperately proud of it. I trusted myself enough to go outside my comfort zone and I am truthfully chuffed with the result.
In my life now, as compared to a year ago, there are daily revelations reminding me of how blessed I am. I wrote a post before this about waiting on my agent. I think I may have given the wrong impression. If I NEVER get an agent, that will be okay. I write because I love it, and the entrance of an agent in that equation won't change that. It may enhance it, but it won't change it. My life has slowly, in the last year, stabilized. My marriage is back on track (unemployment and depression can smack the hell out of a marriage), my personal relationships are blossoming, and for the first time in maybe a decade, I am letting people into my circle. I have new friends who are very, very important to me. And I am writing characters about whom I feel the same. I am learning to trust myself and my craft. I think it is okay to say I am a good writer, and not laugh right after I say it. With trust comes confidence.
Musina knew all that all along. She wanted to tell me, but I was mentally unprepared for such revelatory information. Might have killed me, frankly. Not so much anymore. Because I am embracing change. And right now, I am experiencing the best kind...not things that want to change me, but changes I am accepting and want to make. Trust me, there is a difference. The lesson I think for me, for 2012, is the best kind of changes are the kind you never expected. And isn't that the best part of life? The unexpected? I finally believe that's true.