They’re Not Laughing WITH You, They’re Laughing AT You
There’s a famous saying I hate. It’s right up there with “It is what is it”, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle”, and “I want you to give 110 percent.”
“When we make plans, God laughs.”
I understand God has a sense of humor, but I’d like to think that He didn’t create us to mock us. If someone has things that go wrong for them, I don’t laugh at them. I’d like to think God doesn’t laugh at us either. I’d like to think that hopefully, my plans line up with His plans for me.
I am a pretty funny girl, though…
A year ago, around the last time I blogged, I thought I was truly done with my first draft of my WIP. It was about 50,000 words. I had my book cover designed by the amazing Nathalia Suellen. I had entered an essay contest, hoping to get a free edit and save a lot of money. I wanted that blog post for the essay contest to stand alone so I could hopefully get as many votes as possible.
I don’t think God laughed at my plans, but I laughed at myself and what my plans had been for the next six months. Even though I ended up with the most shares on social media for my essay (thank you to all who voted for me!), I unfortunately didn’t win. I also unfortunately went through a giant writing funk.
There was something completely wrong with my story, and I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. It was missing something. A lot of something.
150,000 words of something.
I would write bits here and there, but it was missing heart and substance of what makes a book a story. It wasn’t until November something magical happened.
Everything. Just. Clicked.
I figured out how things needed to tie in together with each other and how the very end of the series would go. Even though I always had a good idea of the ending, I wasn’t exactly sure how to get there. It was like an Oreo Cookie. I had the two black cookie parts, but I was missing the white cream in the middle.
Enter my husband. We’re both creative. That means we live in a world full of excitement, fascinating discussions… and laundry left in a pile. I took part of an Instagram #AmWritingChallenge and wrote about his amazing-ness here:
He helped me. Tremendously. We worked through some timelines, some major plot points, some character development, and I realized exactly the story it was that I wanted to tell and the grand picture of it all. It wasn’t aimless on how I was going to get to that point.
I’m not sure how anyone writes a series (or single book, actually) without knowing the end, and the last thing I wanted to happen was a story that turned into Baby.
“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”
I didn’t want my story to end up writing itself into the corner.
So then I began to write ahead to some future stories and to some past stories to get to know where my characters were going and where they came from. I just wanted to get to know them even more in general. In the past seven months, I’ve been working on six stories in the series and have over a good 700,000 words written total!
It helped taking the time to write these stories, because just like knowing the end of the series, you have to know the beginning, too. You have to know where your characters came from. I always had a fairly good idea of where they came from since they’ve been in my head for so long, but until I put the words down, some of their stories were simply not flushed out. They grew so much.
It wasn’t until I wrote their past could I know their present and see how they got to the point they were.
And then my novel grew. A lot. It’s currently about 150,000 -175,000, and I’m expecting it around the 150,000 mark.
I think the strangest thing about watching a novel grow and change so much is you wonder how you on earth you were going to release your novel without some of the best parts in it. I realized everything in the novel had been a bit rushed, so I added in another week to the timeline, and that additional week contains my most favorite parts of the novel. It actually stresses me out to think that I almost didn’t write X Part, or M Part, or Z Part. But you just have to keep trekking along and hope and pray you got it all and that the story is going to finish itself.
You have to trust the process and trust yourself.
I think the most important part of writing is to realize that your gut is usually right.
If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. And sometimes, like a stew, you just have to let it simmer if you can’t quite figure it out. It doesn’t mean procrastinate, because even in the three or four months I wasn’t actively writing due to writer’s block, I was writing down tons of notes and ideas, and my mind was processing through everything that was bothering me about my book.
I also read. A ton.
Steven King is right:
Once November came, I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I have written every single day since that time. Sometimes it will be hundreds of words; other times, it will be thousands of words. But it’s words. Every day.
Now when I have writer’s block, I simply will write out a scene maybe three different ways and see which way fits the best.
I used to be terrified to write and make a mistake because I would be embarrassed about what I wrote. (And yikes, I definitely cringe at some of what I wrote — it’s so awful!) But then I realize it’s just helping me write better, and you can really see how your characters come alive when you actually write out what they might do and the different scenarios.
Don’t be afraid to just write. There’s always a delete key. There’s always a second draft. Or a seventh draft.
It’s an exciting time, because I’m finally at the point to where I am about to audition some editors this month to see which one fits my style the best. (150,000 words is very pricey to get edited, so you have to be picky). It should be a very exciting process (and humbling process) to experience and to blog about.
However, I know just like before, my plans probably won’t go the way I expect them to. Who knows what the editing process is going to reveal.
So though I don’t think God laughs at me and my plans, I definitely can find and will find the humor in them.
And that’s a good thing.
Because the best things in life are the things that make us laugh.