For two weeks, I’ve been joining a local writer’s group in their Zoom write ins. The first day, the treasurer of the group, who leads the write in, asked me what I was working on. I said, “A holiday short story that was supposed to be published December 15.” We all laughed. She said, “Well, the holidays come back around.” Yes, they do. Last year, I convinced some of my newsletter subscribers that Christmas in July was a thing, so they bought my book The Secret Gift.
I learned after trying to corral a couple of stories to just let them be. My job is to record what I see on the movie screen in my head. This current project (scheduled but missed publishing date last month), also has grown past a short story. Today, the treasurer asked, “What are working on?” I said, “The same holiday short story, which is now a novella, but I’m okay with that.” I’ve been doing my writing while I’m muted and my video is blocked for an hour at a time. I’m getting down between 1,000 and 2,500 words a day. And the best part? The story just flows.
I can see the last scene. I know there will be a little narration before it starts to snow, and the hero says the signature line in all of my Gift books. I thought I could get there today. But like every single one of my fiction stories, once I see the end, it’s like chasing a moving finish line. This, too, makes me smile. I’m back where I want to be with the words flowing and the action unfolding in my mind faster than I can catch all the details. I want to wrap up the story in the next two days. I know there will be rewrites, but to finish the first draft is worthy of a celebration. I want to announce on Monday that I finished it.
I shared with the treasurer, and the one other person who was writing today, that I feel so grateful for the write ins. I used to be very prolific. I attended writer’s groups and wrote from prompts. Some of those prompts ended up in my published books. Before the pandemic, those groups dwindled. I had one writer friend I met with from 2020 through part of 2022. Then she stopped doing all creative endeavors. I didn’t realize how tough it was to write in a vacuum. The joy I feel when I log on (after they’ve started, and I can’t stay the whole time), lights me up. To see friendly faces, to laugh at something, to nod in agreement when someone mentions their struggle or their ease, to be eager to get back to the story are all things I didn’t think I would get to experience again. Even through a crisis, I logged on, said hello, and wrote for an hour before meeting with a client. What is something that you stopped doing it for a while and then were able to return to it? Did it all come back for you?