life · Writing

How Every Step Can Go Wrong – And What Can Be Done About It

Yesterday morning, I set out on a quest for tea. I left my desk and headed for the drink section of my workplace with my spirits high. I had no idea of the perils that lay ahead of me.

It all began when I spotted the single packet of my favorite kind of tea – peppermint. I grabbed a styrofoam cup and tore open the packet, pulling it out by the string. That was the moment when the string snapped.

Whatever. I don’t mind the bag sitting in the tea.

I poured the steaming water into the cup and grabbed a coffee stirrer. Placing my stick in the liquid, I pushed against the bag to help release the flavor. That was the moment when the bag broke, and hundreds of tiny tea leaves escaped into the water.

I had a meeting in five minutes; while it was a setback, I had no time to prepare another cup.

I grabbed a lid and gave it a gentle push to secure it. That was the moment when the styrofoam split, sending the water and leaves across the table.

After the mess was cleaned, I quickly prepared a cup of green tea and headed to my meeting. Then, last night, I bought my own box of peppermint tea.

That succession of events was the perfect kind of bad luck. Had I watched that unfold in a movie, I would have laughed so hard in the theatre. But no; it happened to me, which of course made it mortifying.

And then I thought about how those unfortunate events could be an analogy for my writing.

I’m struggling to gather the motivation to finish my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel. I hit the word count, so why should I continue? The plot is not complete, but it’s not like it will ever get published, right? It will be a while before it’s finished, so why should I care?

After thinking about my experience trying to make tea, I realized that my NaNo novel is like that peppermint tea. The string might break off my word count, the bag might break my plot leaves, and the cup might spill the contents everywhere. But I need to create my own solution. I can make that second cup of tea, i.e. finish that first draft, and worry about the final draft later, when I have the means to buy an entire box of tea.

I need to pick up that draft again. Even if it never sees the light of day beyond my computer screen, I will not give up on my draft, like I refused to give up on my tea.

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4 thoughts on “How Every Step Can Go Wrong – And What Can Be Done About It

  1. Oh man, I have a strangely intense love of analogies so this post is just great. I’m sorry about your tea struggles though (and also that I giggled a little while reading about them too ;)) But it’s good that you’ve gotten some motivation back to continue your NaNo novel at least! I need to do the same for mine, really. My excuse thus far has been general confusion with where the heck the novel is going, and 2 months later I’m seeing that’s a pretty lame excuse… Anyway, sorry for babbling. What do you think has been holding you back most? Is it just not knowing how it will end? And (I’m going to ask the dreaded question) what is your novel about? Feel free to ignore that one if you want. Lord knows I know that’s a hard question to answer sometimes 🙂

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    1. Hi! I’m so happy you liked it! I love analogies too. Every part of that tea process was cursed! I was actually giggling embarrassed giggles as it was happening.

      Honestly I wrote my story out of order; I have the beginning, some of the middle, and the end. I’m missing most of the middle, and I’m nervous about leaving out important parts. Thank goodness for detailed outlines!

      My novel is a fantasy loosely based on the Kingdom Hearts series. Very loosely. Basically, certain people called Scribes have the power to bring their writing to life. If I may ask, what’s yours about?

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      1. Oh, outlines are the best! (until the moment you get stuck doing more of the outline than the actual writing… which happens to me a bit too often, haha!) But I can totally understand how that would be daunting. The middle is ALWAYS the worst. What I like to do is just sort of write in every detail I think miiight work, and then hopefully figure out where I’m going as I write. But then again, I think it really just depends on the story.

        And um, can I sign up to read your novel once it’s finished? Because that sounds AWESOME! I’ve never actually played Kingdom Hearts, but it always looked like a really cool game (with some great music), so you’ve definitely piqued my interest with that. And my novel is a light-hearted young adult fantasy about a grumpy shopkeeper who must go on a journey to seek out a powerful sorcerer after her brother gets turned into a ferret from a botched magic spell. Honestly, it’s a bit of a mess, and I have no idea how it will end, but it’s fun to write at least!

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  2. Why don’t we beta read each other’s work? Yours reminds me of Howl’s Moving Castle! (I’ve seen the movie and read the book; the book is better, of course! It’s also one of my favorites!) Kingdom Hearts is my favorite video game series and I really liked the idea of a pen as a weapon. Now this gives me another incentive to finish the first draft!

    Email me at arsamandica (at) gmail (dot) com, so we can plan for this! 🙂

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