When Getting Stuck in a Swamp is Comparable to Writing

It was a sunny and warm day when my grandpa, brother, sister, and I decided to go canoeing in the swamps of Florida around eight years ago. We rented two canoes and shoved off the bank, ready for an adventure. The water was a murky reddish-black and lily pads and saw grass grew in abundance; there hadn’t been much rain recently and so the water levels were low and the brush levels were high. It was beautiful.

The day was enjoyable until we tried to make our way back to the canoe rental building; we could see it in the distance and had planned to make a big circle and arrive where we had started. The problem was that with the low water levels we soon came to a stand still, stuck in a marshy mess. Using our paddles we were able to maneuver backward and then row a little further and try in another place. This happened over and over again. The problem was that evening, and the closing time for the rental place, was fast approaching and it would take a long time to go back the way we’d come. We were tired by this time, our energy zapped by the hot sun and futile fights against the saw grass. On top of all that it was incredibly frustrating. The building was so close and yet because of creatures like alligators that were abundant in the water we couldn’t exactly wade through the swamp to arrive at our destination.

At last we ended up turning back and using up the last vestiges of our allotted rental time backtracking. The sun had sunk far lower than it was supposed to and we were late when we arrived back tired and achy to return the canoes. The rental guy was happy we were safe and informed us that if we hadn’t arrived back within 20 minutes protocol would have required him to call in an emergency helicopter to find us.

Recently there have been times when working on When Life Hands You Lymes has felt kinda like being in the swamp. I can see the destination. I can feel the time crunch pricking at me. I try one path and then another, and although I make some headway, I’m still not where I want to me. It’s frustrating to be so close to where I want to go, and yet so very far away.

Throughout the last few months I’ve waded through a whole slew of murky emotions as I try and figure out which scenes are actually needed and which can be done away with. I’ve tried to look at the book objectively, to sift through the silt to collect the gold and toss out the rest.

I sent WLHYL out to be beta read (which I’ve begun referring to as Lymeaids) three and a half weeks ago. I’ve only received feedback from a handful of Lymeaids, but that feedback has made me antsy to hear back from the rest so I can compare and study and come up with conclusions about what really needs changed. I’m dedicated to making WLHYL as good as I can with the help and resources I have. Right now those “resources” happen to be the minds of helpful people. It’s hard to be patient when I’m so eager to start in on the next draft, but I’m endeavoring to stretch my patient-capabilities and just focus on other aspects of life.

Writing WLHYL was an adventure. Editing it and writing the subsequent drafts has been a crazy adventure. I haven’t always enjoyed it. There have been times when I want to give up. There have been times when I’m so sick and tired of the book I wish it was magically perfect and published and I never have to work on it again. And yet, there have also been many, many times when I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with the WIP. I’ve met a some other writers who have been amazing and helpful and turned into friends, including several who have also experienced Lyme disease. I’ve learned so much not only about writing, but also about myself. I’ve gotten lost in the Emerson’s world. I’ve grown and overcome and placed myself solidly outside of my comfort zone.

Yes, working on WLHYL sometimes reminds me of our swamp adventure, but do you know what? I look back at that day in the swamp with fond memories. Although it could have turned out bad it didn’t, and I’m pretty sure that I’ll forever look back at these months of working on WLHYL with fond memories as well.

(And no pictures today cause we’re currently traveling through mountains with very little internet service.) 

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