Over the course of my life, I’ve moved more than my fair share of times. Every time I do, I swear it’ll be the last move I make for a long, long time. But, life gets in the way of my plans, and so, we move when changing circumstances dictate. Adapting to moves, or any major changes, is never easy. In fact, most people actively avoid serious stressors, but according to the article The 7 Biggest Causes of Stress on The 6 Healthy Habits, how we react to stress determines how we cope.
As with any major life change, the emotional and physical toll can be high. Fortunately I’ve always been the type of person who, once I make up my mind to do/not do something, I forge ahead. My husband is the planner, making lists, spreadsheets, and so on. Me, not so much. I look at the big picture and map out a course I believe is the right one for me, then I go for it. Don’t get me wrong, when I need to be detailed in a task, I can do it just fine. I’m also routine oriented. Routines help me focus and feel in control. Even jobs that have no set regimen, like writing, I quickly establish an overall work pattern and adapt as needed, depending on the demands of the day. We’re a good team, my husband and I. He’s a planner, while I’m more of a doer. We don’t always agree, but we make most things work for us and keep to the shared path.
Of course no one’s life is ever on a completely even path, and days before we recently moved, I received the next edits on the In The Spirit Of Forgiveness manuscript. Talk about pressure. I wanted, and needed, to get to those edits and return them to my publisher as quickly as possible, but I simply didn’t have the time. I had to scramble to do them when I could, in between unpacking at the new place, and learning the ins and outs of a new job.
A couple of days after our move, my nephew’s wife decided to give birth to their first child, which I had promised and wanted to attend, come hell or high water. I was now living in a city forty-five minutes from theirs, which isn’t onerous in good weather, but in a Canadian winter, not always great. I hate the cold and snow of winter, and I hate the often poor road conditions even more. Still, the road conditions were favourable that day, so I off I went to attend at the birth of my new great-niece, Brianna Lee Stewart. I’m happy to say, all went extremely well, but it certainly added to my fatigue when I returned to work the next day. That’s life; it pulls and pushes you in directions you didn’t know you were going in, and being able to adapt to new situations is important.
For my first full day off, I committed to working on my edits as much as possible. I was excited and anxious to get back to my love; writing. I’d been itching to sit down and re-read the words I’d written so many months ago, and see what nuggets of information and correction my publisher had provided. As I began, it occurred to me that editing a manuscript isn’t that dissimilar to life. I may even have said it a time or two before. For the most part, we go along our merry path in life, sure of the road we walk, then BAM, something happens to throw us off and send us in an entirely new direction.
In the process of writing, writers often need to re-write, revise, or edit the heck out of a story. Characters often need fine tuning, and some evolve into a stronger presence than initially intended. It occurs to me that editing is adaptability at it’s finest, and as a writer, I’m learning to embrace it fully. Change is never easy, and for most, it’s downright unpleasant. In fact, most people only change when it’s forced on them out of necessity. We change a pattern or direction because we need to, not necessarily because we want to, or just for the heck of it.
In writing, when an editor or publisher gives you direction and suggestions, as a writer it’s your job to keep an open mind, review the suggestion with an open mind. Then, you do what needs to be done to make your story as well put together and professional as possible. In short, you need to get rid of the ego and be flexible; adapt. Writing is a job, as much as it’s an art, so somewhere along the line, someone is going to tell you how to clean up your act and polish your work so it shines.
I also believe writing a book takes a village; the writer, the publisher and/or agent, the editor, the cover artist, the printer, and so on. We all contribute to the finished product, and if we’ve done our jobs correctly, somewhere a reader will fall in love with the words we’ve strung together and the stories we’ve woven. For self-published writers, depending on their own skill sets and comfort level, they still must bring together a team of professionals to help them get the book edited, packaged, printed, uploaded, etc. Then there’s a website to be built and maintained, blogging, social networking, and public appearances that need to be dealt with on a regular, on-going basis. You might be the hub everything revolves around, but a professional writer understands the benefits of delegation of tasks they may have little expertise or experience with.
Today, anyone involved in the book publishing industry must be even more open to change than ever before. In a broad, global scope, publishing is undergoing massive changes. This is primarily thanks to the development and explosion of e-books, e-venues, and how readers gain access to books on-line. For years a standard process had been set forth, but now everything is open to change. Writers have had to learn to adapt and swim in these new waters, just as publishers and agents do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a first-time writer, or best-seller. It doesn’t matter if a publisher/agent is a large house, or independent. We’re all learning to swim new strokes and trying to stay afloat. Change is inevitable, but not always welcomed by all. For some, drastic changes will swamp them and they’ll drown, while others will swim faster and stronger, and therefore, succeed.
Adaptability in writing also comes in the form of mediums for stories. For example; a book may become a resounding success and be optioned for a movie, or television series. This means adapting the original manuscript format to a new one matching the needs of the medium, in the form of screenwriting. Books are also often adapted into stage plays, so again, the format needs to be changed from that of prose, to playwriting. Few writers are capable of adapting a manuscript into a play or movie, so screen and playwrites are hired to do the job. Audiobooks and podcasts are seeing a huge jump in popularity, as people use downtime in their cars or other stagnant periods of their day to listen to stories and information that have been voice recorded. Again, it’s all about change and adaptation. Every time the medium of the story changes, the writer has to let go of the ego and work with, not against, it.
I recently came across an article on this subject that resonated with me; Blog Writing Tips-Be Willing To Adapt To Change, written by Justin Murphy. It’s short and to the point, but basically sums up how people can adapt to changes in a positive manner.
I might not love everything about the changes I’ve been forced to make over the years, but I’ve met some terrific people along the way, I’ve gained new experiences, and I’ve learned new skills. I figure that counts for quite a bit, since I can use all of it in my writing and stories. I’ve realized that writing, like life, is a path filled with all kinds of changes. I firmly believe that those who can master the art of change and adaptability will go further than those who cannot, so I try to learn from the wrong turns, the misses, and failures. As they say, Life is a journey, not a destination. As a beachcomer and shell collector, I can see the long stretch of sand ahead, but I look forward to stopping along the way to investigate the sea’s treasures. Some I’ll discard, while others I’ll tuck into my pocket to add to my growing collection.