Last week, I met with the last of the three beta readers who read my memoir. Here’s the unanimous verdict: the narrative arc is strong.
Cue the balloon drop, pop of a champagne cork, and happy dance that will probably overstretch something in my hips.
For those of you who might not know, the narrative arc is the backbone of any story regardless of genre. In memoir, it reveals how the narrator transforms. And, friends, it’s fucking hard to nail the narrative arc. Many a book has crumbled without one.
I’ll spend the next three months tightening, tweaking, and beautifying every last sentence for January submissions to interested agents.
As I crack my knuckles in preparation for the work ahead, let me introduce you to my little friend, Resistance.
According to Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, Resistance is the insidious, implacable, invisible voice within all of us that does its best to maintain the status quo. While it can show up at any time, it’s more likely to drop by when we’re following a call from the soul. Pressfield says, “The more important an enterprise is to the growth of our soul the more Resistance will harass us.”
It tends to be most vocal when we’re in the last leg of any project, because Resistance hates a finisher.
Resistance tells us tomorrow is a better time to start.
Or, that we need to completely heal before we can truly begin.
It helps us pencil in all of the tasks, duties, and work that will eat up our writing time.
Resistance is often the reason we pop Cheetos, guzzle wine, or scarf down cake instead of sitting at our desks. Sometimes, it’s the reason we get sick, gossip about others, enter unhealthy relationships, or create dramas of self-sabotage that burn through our creativity.
At first, Resistance feels like “a low-grade misery” that’s bored, restless, and never satisfied. There’s a guilt we can’t put our finger on. As it wears on, we become disgusted and hate ourselves and our lives.
But don’t take any of this personally. Pressfield says, “Resistance is a force of nature that acts objectively like the indifference of rain and transits the heavens by the same laws as the stars.”
Fear is Resistance’s favorite snack. The tastiest bites are made of the deepest questions we ask ourselves during the writing process. Who am I? Why am I here? What is the meaning of my life?
But fear is not the enemy. Pressfield says, “The more scared we are of a work or a calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
So, you might be asking, Lisa, are you scared?
Fuck yeah, I am.
While I’ve been actively writing this book for a little over two years, it’s twenty-three years in the making. During those twenty-three years, other projects have fizzled out.
For those you who might not know my story, this memoir is about how a chance meeting during a heavy-metal tour helped me survive my brother’s suicide.
Some parts of this book were incredibly fun to write, like all the scenes with Klaus, our quirky bus driver and road guru. But writing other parts felt like pressing a finger full of salt into my heart. It’s easy to show you the fun parts, but do I really want the world to see the inner workings of my heart?
I fear that I haven’t yet been brave enough in scenes.
I fear that my art won’t be good enough.
I fear that once I send this off, I’ll lose control of the project, because while a published book has the author’s name on it, it’s no longer her story. It now belongs to the reader.
For the next month, I’m going to wrestle with my Resistance as a part of my latest newsletter series. Steven Pressfield’s insightful, quick-reading book will serve as my guide.
Buy the book and join me on this odyssey while you’re experimenting with asking “why not me” about your writing projects.
Are you ready to wrestle together, <<First Name>>? What does your resistance look like? Email me the answer.
Or, better yet, tweet it to me with the hashtag #thecolorofmyresistance