Monday, March 23, 2009

But still I can do something


On the writing front, I have 20,000 words of my current project completed. It has no title yet, so it is much like the puppy you just brought home, which shows promise of growing into those big paws but which has not yet presented you with the name it wishes to be called. I continue to be alternately frustrated and amused by my daily struggle with word count. Dragging myself to the minimum count of 750 words/day is torture--but once I hit it and tell myself I can officially stop for the day, I'll keep thinking of "one more scene" to add. Upon checking my word count for today, I found I've added 2,500 words. This draft is pretty rough, mostly just a blocking in of action and dialogue. But I've come to believe that my writing process is more layering than straight write-one-draft-and-then-revise. I block in the plot, then I layer in additional scenes to make sure the individual threads of character development and plot and subplot are clear, and then I layer in whatever physical and sensory descriptions I've skipped over. So far, so good.

Thought of the day, brought to you via a homily given quite a few years ago by our parish priest. The topic was technically marriage, but the theme was commitment, and the line (paraphrased) I recall most vividly was this: That commitment is not something you simply decide once and then do, but rather a choice you make anew every single day. It was a light bulb moment for me, because I had often struggled with my commitment to become a writer. I would have a day where I felt very passionate about it and would commit to pursuing my dream--and then a week later I'd have a bad day and just give up. And then I would feel guilty because I was weak and couldn't commit to my dream. For some reason, up until that homily, it had not occurred to me that I could just take it one day at a time. If I had a bad day, I didn't have to guilt myself into giving up forever and ever.

If I tried to carry the weight of guilt for every imperfect day, the burden would soon be so great that I'd be unable to continue on. But if I lay down that guilt at the end of a bad day, and on the next day renew my commitment to go on--just for THAT day--then the burden is so much lighter. And I can keep going. And no matter how many imperfect days, I am still further along my path than if I simply gave up and never tried at all.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Maybe the season

Yes, I have been quieter than usual lately. And I know that some of you will worry if you don't hear from me now and then, so let me just say that I am not quiet because I am in the middle of a blue funk. Quite the opposite, for the moment. The sun has been shining, and while I have been wrestling with questions of a spiritual, "where is my life going?" nature (as if THAT is anything new), I have also been on a mostly even emotional keel. I have also written over 12,000 words on my new little side project, as well as dealing with the every day mother and housewife stuff, as well as making sure I make time to just hang out with my guys.

So yes, quiet. But not in any bad way.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Self-definition, truth, and a busman's holiday

(I am really lazy about the labels on my blog entries, in case no one had noticed yet. If any of my half dozen readers ever really want to find a specific entry, they're going to have their work cut out for them.)

I've done quite a bit of writing the last couple of days. It's been work, but it's been a very rewarding, straightforward kind of work, unlike the frenzied flailing about in the dark that Crowmaker has often resembled. I am able to determine what a scene needs, do whatever research I need, and write the scene--and then move on with the comfortable feeling that what I've written, while imperfect, will hold up the framework I'm building for the rest of the story. It's a very different feeling for me, and I kind of like it.

The story itself is a departure from anything I've written before, to some extent. It should fall into the category of inspirational romance when it's done, I suspect, and I've never written a flat out romance before. I have written stories with a smack of inspirational theme in them, I guess.

Actually, if I nail myself down, almost everything I write has a spiritual theme involved. There's a search for truth and enlightenment in my fiction that reflects my personal search. Maybe that's related to the "write what you know" rule: Write the answers you're looking for.

In all honesty, this story does not excite me in the way Crowmaker does. It has no wow factor for me currently. But it does seem to be growing a quiet presence--you know, that feeling a story starts to have at the moment when it transitions from something you're writing to something with a life of its own. It is a VERY quiet presence, though. Maybe that's part of the reason it feels more like work (in a good sense, as in yes, work, but it feels good to accomplish something) and less like a rollercoaster of white-hot inspirational peaks and valleys of overwhelming confusion.

Maybe it also has something to do with being the first work of non-speculative fiction I've done in a long while. Unlike many spec fic writers, I am NOT a compulsive world builder. I don't feel compelled to fritter away hours thinking up every little detail of how the world of my story works. I will build those details, yes, but only on an as-needed basis. And then it's work. Hard work. Gives me a headache and makes me want to scream work. And maybe there's a lesson for me in that, somewhere.

Which is not to say I won't finish Crowmaker. I will. I have poured too much of myself into that story, and more importantly, I still believe in that story too much to let it sit fallow forever here on my desk.

But this week, in keeping with my recent decision to do less micro-managing of my writing process according to how "everyone" says it ought to be done, I am going to continue to work on this other project. Because I feel like it. And I will continue to work on it...

Until I get tired of it and feel reenergized about Crowmaker again. Which could be, y'know... Any given moment.

Which possibly sounds wishy-washy and undisciplined and like a thing someone who only talks about being a real writer would say. But I know that I am putting real effort into my writing, and I know that I have a modicum of talent and more than a modicum of determination. So I hereby give myself permission to sound however I happen to sound.

Go me!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Head on without a care

The first part of last week was great. I accomplished a great deal of plot-untangling for Crowmaker and managed to work out all the big kinks leading up to the ending. I also have more than a vague idea how the story really ends. (Although I'm not sure. Which is fine, because not knowing for sure is part of what keeps me wanting to work on a story.) I also uncovered a big question important to the story making sense, and I have yet to determine exactly how I will answer that question. I have some vague ideas, but I am letting them stew for the time being.

Round about Thursday morning, with no tangible work left to do on Crowmaker for the moment aside from the stewing, the blues caught up with me again. I spent most of Thursday and Friday reading, which is fine because reading is good for writing, but which for some reason never feels enough like work to prevent me from adding guilt to the blues mix. The weekend was spent on catching up on household stuff, which is tangible, and which does feel enough like work to banish the guilt portion of the blues. Come this morning, I was able to sit down with some notes I'd scribbled over the weekend and start working again, although not solely on Crowmaker.