Although I started writing novels some 13 years ago, life hit, and I took a hiatus from writing for 10 years after my husband and I decided to buy a house in a neighborhood we loved – mature trees and a little bit of land – but still convenient to where we worked.
Buying this particular house meant that we would gut it, rip off the roof, add a second level, and – save for the new roof and outside studs we paid a contractor to put up – do all the work ourselves. Studs, mechanicals, electricity, drywall, siding, mudding/plastering, trim, tile, floors, paint – my fingers have been on every piece around me.
So years passed, and every spare moment we weren’t off on vacation (we did have to have fun, after all!) went into construction, and the writing went to the wayside. But in the 10 months that I have been writing again, I’ve realized I wouldn’t trade any of that time away, because here’s what I’ve learned about myself during all those years, all of which helps me with my writing.
1. I’m a tenacious bugger. I can pound nails into siding or sand a wall smooth for hours on end. Would I want to do it full-time? Heck no. But I’m tenacious enough to plow through monotony to get the job done. This skill is especially useful when the muse goes on hiatus. Just keep writing.
2. I can concentrate on the details. Without measuring twice and remembering that measurement during the walk to the saw, a straight line of siding can quickly turn to a sloping line of cedar shakes. And believe me, if you step back after twelve hours in the hot sun, and look at the outside of your house, and realize it looks like a fun house at a carnival, you start paying close attention to the details. Like proper measurements. Same thing with plotting. One detail can butterfly effect a plot for good or for bad pretty easily. Better to pay attention and use the detail for good.
3. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, gooey, even. Mortar, plaster, grout, paint, caulk – it all cakes and dries in globs on your hands, arms, feet, cheeks, hair, knees, shoulders – any bare skin hanging out there. And let’s just say my “working clothes” wardrobe is by far larger than my regular wardrobe. But there is something quite freeing about getting lost in muck. Same for writing. I know I used to have a filter that would say, “should I go there?” especially when it came to violence or sex. I still have that filter, but now I answer with a “sure, why not?” And it usually turns out pretty well. Besides, if the words get too gross or crass, I can always call over the stump-tailed dog to hit the delete button.
4. Let it go. I’m my own worst critic. I don’t have that magical ability that some do to say, “eh, that’s good enough.” Kudos to you, if you do. Houses, by their very nature, are not perfect. There are too many materials coming together to ever achieve flawless precision. So that trim that isn’t level, that grout line that wavers – I’m just a little bit horrified every time I pass those flaws. But I have yet to find one person that could tell me those flaws existed before I pointed them out. The human eye sees what it wants to see, and it naturally likes to gloss over flaws. While I refuse to knowingly sacrifice quality in my writing, I’ve accepted the fact that there will always be things I or editors miss. A sentence structure, a missing word, a homophone, I am guilty of all, and more. I just have to trust in the good grace of the reader to give me the benefit of the doubt, and enjoy the whole of the story. Because believe me, I see a mistake post-publishing, and I am more horrified than a reader ever will be (how many editions can I upload?). And then I have to let it go.
Wow, I learned more about myself than I thought! All the best and happy reading!
About the Author
K.J. Jackson’s debut novel, Flame Moon, is the first in The Flame Moon Series. She specializes in paranormal romance, will work for travel, and is a sucker for a good story in any genre. She lives in Minnesota with her husband, two children, and a dog who has taken the sport of bed-hogging to new heights.
K.J. is currently working on the second novel in The Flame Moon Series. Flame Moon is available at Amazon.
Connect with the Author
The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of Girl Who Reads. Girl Who Reads is an advertising affiliate with Amazon and IndieBound; a small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above links.