good, goodness, music, process, progress, writing, writingfiction, writingprocess

Prudence in Process and Progress

Why, oh WHY, is this taking so long?

We live in a culture and age where we expect quick results. The faster the better. Companies have capitalized on this, on anything from weight loss to food and beverage delivery. Can’t, for whatever reason, wait? I have a friend who orders her drink with the Starbucks mobile app, and then all she has to do is pick up the drink in the store. No wait, no hassle.

Is being in that kind of hurry a good thing? Sure it is. When we’re trying to meet a work deadline or school assignment due date, especially when we have other obligations and things to do, working efficiently and quickly is important.

How about being in a mad rush all the time? Um, no. That doesn’t work so well. Two kinds of examples more commonly accepted as requiring effort and time to develop include mastering a musical instrument and playing a sport well.

I started taking piano lessons when I was four and a half, after begging my parents to let me. In exchange, I had to practice every day. After about a year into lessons, my first teacher left us to get married and she moved cross country.

Lily Chang © 2018

I found out later my next piano teacher almost didn’t take me, because I was so young. Only five. But she couldn’t not take me, after hearing me play. I could already do so much, including play the scales. I didn’t get there by some miracle. I worked hard, practicing scales, arpeggios, and pieces every day.

Getting results from playing a sport also required dedicated hard work. For a period of time in my adolescent years, I played tennis more than just on a recreational basis. I practiced every day, working on my forehand swing, my backhand swing, volleying balls, and serving. I remember my dad would place a bucket upside down, just inside the baseline and the singles line. And, I had to practice hitting a ball at that spot, down the line as well as cross court, with the goal of making my opponent run the base line. When I went to tennis camp, we also had to do plenty of warm-up exercises before and after we played: stretching, running suicides, and jogging. Training was brutal. But, all that made competing easier and paved the way to playing well. Even after all that, I never became  a seriously competitive tennis player.

Lily Chang © 2018

So, why is it I’m so impatient with the writing process, when I am fully aware that good writing takes writing, rewriting, revisions, and more writing?

Maybe it’s because in any week, on any given day, I’m doing countless Mommy and household responsibilities and juggling that with teaching duties. I spend three hours a day on the road each week day, just getting kids to and from school. I have to take more time off if the kids are sick, have special events, engage in extracurricular activities, have various doctor or dentist checkups, and anything else that comes up. I do all that on top of the daily routine: cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, assisting in homework, doing laundry. And, I haven’t even talked about my paying job. I have to find time to answer student e-mails, grade papers, and whatever else comes my way for teaching-related responsibilities. Oh, and then, there is the writing.

What? Where and how is writing going to take place? I don’t know about you, but I’m tired just listing what I do in any given week. But, I cannot not write.

Being an adjunct professor isn’t cutting it for my family. No, no. Don’t get me started on that. Focus. Focus. I’m writing, because I started feeling a strong calling to write. And, as it turns out, I’m passionate about writing.

There is no way to shortcut good writing. Writing takes practice, research, organizing, rewriting, refining, rewriting, more reorganizing, rewriting, did I mention writing and rewriting?

You’d think that I’d be used to that long-term process and effort by now, after all I made it through some eighteen (very different) drafts of a Master’s thesis and a lengthy writing process for my dissertation. But, no. I want to be done and not take forever. But, I’m not willing to sacrifice good writing.

Lily Chang © 2018

The road ahead isn’t short, by any means. But, I can sort of see the end. Sort of. That being said, I want to share that the day before yesterday, I had a whew! and wow! moment in writing, as I wrapped up the eighth revision of the manuscript for my first novel, my first work of fiction. I had deliciously exquisite sushi to celebrate.

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