Work Until You Cannot See

shadow-plant-1512993-640x960It’s purely maddening and bewildering to discover this:

The longer I work on something, the more I try to improve, the more I can’t tell whether I’m actually getting better.

I exercise and my muscles get sore and irritated and suddenly sitting up straight is a challenge. (Oh great! Now I’m going backwards!)

I add a few more spices and a dash of salt to the sauce on the stove and now I’m not certain it will taste good with anything.

I write and revise and experiment and then I wonder if the story is still speaking its message or if I’ve just screwed it up.

The only cure I’ve found for this is asking for help. I.e. Will you watch me do this? Will you taste this? Will you read this and tell me if it makes one shred of sense anymore?

Not at all sure why my critical capacity is hampered proportionally to how hard I work on something, but maybe it’s a fail-safe. A part of our human design to need each other.

My husband tastes the food for me. He reads a lot of drafts. He encourages me in my exercise efforts (even if he does turn on the blender while I’m trying to hear the Youtube instructions). Heh. I definitely, absolutely, desperately need him.

Another surprise-I didn’t know my third book was my best writing yet. I honestly didn’t think it was. But people keep telling me it is.

And now it’s a finalist for the INDIEFAB 2015 Book of the Year in its category. (Can I just say YAY!!!?)

So when you are working hard and you can’t see straight anymore and you think you might actually be getting worse, ask someone else to look at it in your stead.

You could be doing something amazing.

About Elise

Elise Stephens began her career in writing at age six, illustrating her own story books and concocting wild adventures. She earned her degree in Creative Writing at the University of Washington. Stephens counts authors Neil Gaiman, C.S. Lewis, and Margaret Atwood among her literary mentors, and has studied under Orson Scott Card. She dreams often of finding new ways to weave timeless truths into her stories. She is a recipient of the Eugene Van Buren prize for fiction. Her novels include Moonlight and Oranges(2011), Forecast (2013), and Guardian of the Gold Breathers (2015). She lives in Seattle with her husband and son. Follow her on Twitter @elisestephens

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