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.

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