It Takes Time

I’m not particularly patient, nor am I especially self-indulgent. If I have a job to do, I like to get on with it quickly and efficiently.

Years as a journalist taught me the importance of meeting deadlines, getting words down, not making excuses. So, when I turned to novel writing, I brought that same attitude with me: Put your butt in the chair and get to work. I’m not the fastest writer in the library but I’m not the slowest one either. I’m a ‘steady as she goes, right down the middle’ kind of writer. It works; the words add up.

Or at least they used to. Lately, though, my writing has taken something of a backseat because I’m preoccupied with trying to help my sick father who lives across the country. I wrote about it last month: https://lauralangston.com/workarounds/

I struggled with the workarounds, though I did try. By the end of March, however, I realized that my writing output had slipped to an alarmingly low level. Barring the months postpartum with my kids, it’s the lowest it’s ever been. Acknowledging that sent me into a real funk. This isn’t how I work; this isn’t who I am.

A few days later, this blog post popped up on Live, Write, Thrive: https://www.livewritethrive.com/2019/04/01/when-slow-writing-leads-to-great-writing/

I don’t like feeling unproductive. A day or two is one thing but not for weeks at a stretch. The idea of slowing down and taking my time (or some days not having the time) feels incredibly frustrating as the Live Write Thrive post acknowledges.

I talked to a non-writer friend. She’s a geriatric and hospice nurse; her whole mindset is about people. She knows the circumstances of my situation and she also knows I have an intensely disruptive few months coming up. I’ll be flying back east at least once, maybe multiple times. She couldn’t fathom that I was even trying to write at a time like this. “You need to give yourself permission to stop,” she said. “Just stop and deal with the issues at hand.”

I’m not sure I want to stop writing for the next couple of months but I do need to give myself permission to go slowly. And I need to find the joy in it too.

Going slowly isn’t all bad. For instance, I love to cycle. It’s not the fastest mode of transportation, yet it’s a wonderful way to connect more intimately with your surroundings. Slow food also has its merits. My grandmother used to cook short ribs. They take forever (or it felt like they did) but that slow time is necessary to break down the connective tissue in the meat so they’re fall-apart tender and delicious. A good Bordeaux takes at least ten years to mature. A beautiful Bonsai can take five years to look like anything.

It may take me more time than I’d like to get my current novel written. But as long as I’m moving forward, I will get there. One word at a time.

Library Love Affair

publiclendingrightAnyone who reads my blog on a regular basis probably knows how much I love libraries. When I was a child, I learned to read and write because I wanted a library card. Back then, going to the library and wandering the stacks of books was one of my favorite things to do. When I became a writer, libraries (and the invaluable librarians who work there) took on added importance. As well as being a place of escape, I began to rely on the library for much of my research. I still do to some extent today.

Libraries nourished me as a child. They informed me as an adult. As a writer, they contribute to my income.

The end of February is when PLR (Public Lending Right) cheques are issued to authors. This year, more than 17,000 Canadian authors will receive money as compensation for free public access to our books through Canada’s public libraries. I’m always grateful when that cheque hits the mailbox. I’m also grateful for what it represents – our incredible library system and the acknowledgement of the role Canadian authors play in contributing to it. Thanks is also due to the Canada Council for the Arts which spearheads this important program.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the PLR. And for the first time since the program began, electronic books may be registered. If you’re an author and you’d like more information, go here: http://plr-dpp.ca/PLR/

And if you’re a reader but you haven’t visited the library in a while, I hope you check out your local branch soon!