I decided to shake things up a little here on the blog and write something different from what I typically do. This post will be a glimpse into the past few months of my life. If you don’t receive my weekly newsletter (you can correct that by clicking here) or follow me on all my social pages, you may not know what I’ve been up, where my book is in the publishing process or why I’ve been a little less consistent here than I would like.
2019 has been my year of PERSEVERANCE. That was my word of the year, and I’m so thankful it was.
Perseverance means sticking to a goal, despite all challenges or discouragements or detours, until you reach the intended destination. While that end may not always look exactly as you originally thought it would, the mindset to get there and to accept it if it is slightly different, is the same—a dogged determination to see a task through to its conclusion.
I welcomed this year with an acceptance of the fact that my desire to publish this year may or may not happen. The costs involved with starting a small business and setting out to publish your own books are heavy enough to weigh on anyone’s mind and too large to fund from loose change lurking beneath the couch cushions. I decided to plow ahead with my September release date in mind, not knowing for certain if I would reach it.
Things began to happen.
Tasks began to be checked off. Opportunities presented themselves. Financing began to fall into place.
I didn’t think I’d ever finish revisions—but I did. I didn’t think I’d ever finish edits—but I did. That brings us to this week when I have finally—FINALLY—finished formatting. Let me just say, that process of taking a Word document and turning it into a book manuscript is not for the faint of heart. I had stops and starts. I thought I’d finished it a little over a week ago, only to learn I’d used the wrong margin sizes. It was almost enough to make me throw in the towel. Almost. It takes a great deal of perseverance.
[Also, fun fact: I wrote that paragraph as you just read it on Monday night—before I had actually finished—because I was determined that I would. There’s power in claiming something as a given by writing it in the past tense, my friend.]
During this time, I also legally set up Logos & Mythos Press and publicly revealed it to the world through our website. My critique partner and I launched our weekly podcast—QWERTY Writing Life. We also wrote the first draft of the first in our series of writing craft books. And, I’m super close to some huge reveals for Any Good Thing, including the cover, the preorder and release dates and some little glimpses into the book.
The past few months have been more than a little insane. As I look back, I’m amazed at how much we’ve accomplished. As I look forward to the rest of this year—launching my debut novel and my debut co-authored nonfiction book, sharing both with the world and continuing our podcast and my blog—I could easily grab for a paper bag and decide it’s all too much. But, that’s not what this year is about. This year is about pressing forward. Continuing a pursuit of this dream and putting in the hard work and long hours to achieve it.
I’m not going to do everything perfectly, but I will persevere.
In case you’ve forgotten at this point, the title of this post is “Regarding Cats, Coffee and Colophons.” I have not mentioned any of those yet, so you’re right to wonder if I’ve finally lost my last marbles. Believe it or not, each of our C words directly relates to perseverance.
Let me tell you a story about my cat. Tolkien is no ordinary feline. He came to me before his first birthday. I was his fourth address and possibly his first true home. Now, Tolkien had not been abused to my knowledge, but he also hadn’t been able to live as high a quality of life as he could have.
After disconcerting and increasingly frequent yowls while he ate, Tolkien ate less and less and grew more and more skinny. He would have days like this and then bounce back for a couple of weeks. After a while those time frames swapped, and I knew I had to take him to the vet.
Tolkien was diagnosed with feline stomatitis.
Basically, his gums were severely inflamed, causing him extreme pain especially when he ate. He wasn’t able to yawn completely because it was clearly too painful for him to stretch his jaw. It was heartbreaking to see the sweet baby try to get a good yawn out and often end in a howl instead. He didn’t really like to be petted, especially around his head—which makes perfect sense once I realized the severe pain he was in.
The problem with this disease is there’s no clear cause and no definitive cure. Thankfully, Tolkien had an outstanding veterinarian who wouldn’t give up until he did all he could. We started with medicine. We bought special pureed cat food in the hopes that he could actually eat something. Finally, after two surgeries that left only four teeth behind, we felt we might have turned a corner.
Every few weeks, he’d have a painful day or two when he couldn’t eat. For the most part, though, he was far more active. The week after his second surgery, Tolkien curled up in my lap for the first time. I fell in love with him the first night I met him, but that was the first time I thought he could feel the same for me. At somewhere around six months post-surgery, Tolkien stopped having painful days. He doesn’t yowl anymore when he eats. He can leap all over the house—on top of the refrigerator, up into our highest windowsills, from the piano to the mantle and back, across the living room from table to sofa—without crying. He plays with our younger dog, batting at her, chasing her and giving her a run for her money.
He sleeps with me some nights. At first, he’d stay at the far bottom of the bed, not even touching me. Slowly he graduated to laying on my feet, then my legs. Finally a month or so ago, he tucked in within finger’s reach. He likes to be petted more now than he used to and loves having his chin scratched, especially since it no longer pains him.
And, he’s got the widest yawn of any cat I’ve ever seen.
So, what’s this got to do with writing and my past few months? Perseverance, of course.
We weren’t sure what to do when we got the diagnosis. It didn’t sound good, and the thoughts of the vet bills were scary—especially for a young family still struggling to get out from under debt in order to work toward starting our own businesses over the next several years. My husband agreed to persevere in our decision to do all we could for him. He was still just a kitten, and our vet had a plan. The doctor persevered in his determination to seek out advice from more experienced professionals and from journals and case studies. He stuck to his guns and kept the four teeth in to give our sweet baby a better quality of life for the long run than he would with no teeth to support his gums and jaw.
And then there was Tolkien. Even when I could tell he was in excruciating pain, he tried to play. He wanted to chase the string and bat at the mousie. And, finally, once he no longer lived under that constant onslaught of pain, he pressed forward to try to be part of his forever family. He realized he’d reached his final destination. Four addresses were enough. This one was for keeps, and the four nutsy humans and the two crazy dogs might just be a family for him after all. He even loves family camping trips.
When I’ve been at my most exhausted or frustrated, that’s when Tolkien chooses to come lay on my papers as I run over them with red ink or to curl up in my lap as I type or learn to format. He encourages me to persevere.
He inspects my work, gives me condescending looks when I’m not working up to appropriate standards and sniffs my coffee to make sure it’s strong enough to carry me through the next task on the list. When I was almost ready to throw in the towel on formatting my book myself, he sat over me as I worked at the table. He snuffed at the books I poured over, ruler in hand, as I tried to figure out the right margin settings. He oversaw my research into the font I really wanted to use in my book—which became a driving force behind persevering in formatting my way. He was laying nearby when I wrote the colophon (the description of and history behind the fonts used in a book) that I had been so excited to include for me … and the one other person out there who actually reads them.
So, as I push ahead into the second half of 2019, it’s with my cat, coffee and colophon alongside.
Whatever comes in the months ahead, we will persevere and charge headlong into each challenge as it comes. On December 31, I hope to turn back for just a moment to smile on all we’ve accomplished this year before we plunge into whatever great things await in 2020.
What examples of perseverance have you had in your life? What end are you pressing forward toward and what challenges are you facing with this determination? Do you have a special encourager in your life—furry or otherwise?
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