The first thing I discovered is that I’m extremely hard on myself and one of the side effects is a paralyzing self sabotage. At least I recognize it now and am doing something about it – namely writing.
Then tonight I came across a wee gem that really resonated with me; perhaps because it echos Liz Gilbert’s TED presentation. Or perhaps I
needed a reminder to not take myself so seriously….
I don’t have to be perfect,
All I have to do is show up
enjoy the messy, imperfect, and beautiful journey of my life.
It’s a trip more wonderful than I could have imagined.
- Kerry Washington
Well, this is it: the Christmas tree has been put away for another year, the calenders have been changed, the toasts have been…er…toasted. I am ready to take on 2012 the way other people are ready to take on bungee jumping or diving with great white sharks. And while, just for the record, neither of those things figure on my to do list this year (we have that clear right? Right.)
I should probably say that I am taking as many precautions as if I were about to jump into the open sea with large, hungry sea monsters too. I am doing gongyo and chanting every day. We have found a house and signed the lease. I am doing yoga and going for putting as much effort and determination into making this year a truly successful one as if I were.
I am going for a lot of walks. Spending time with my kids and my man. Reading a lot of books and watching a lot of movies – my kobo and the dvd player are taking a real beating. And writing, I’m writing. All things with a Big I.
The writing, the reading and the movies have had me thinking a lot about creativity and I came across this quote from SGI President Daisaku Ikeda which seemed fitting for my mood given everything that has gone down:This thing called life—with the exertion and concentrated thought of a novelist writing a novel, with the sweat and perseverance of a painter plying his brush, seated before the blank paper of the instant and the future, one creates a new portrait of oneself. Life is a vigorous task to be engaged in. Daisaku Ikeda
Happy new year gang – see you further on up the road.
You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury
Hmmmm – he might be on to something…..and to be honest, by the pricking of my thumbs (sorry couldn’t resist) this afternoon I rather like the idea of staying drunk on writing in order to thwart reality. In fact I’m all for thwarting reality – which is, I suspect, a prerequisite for writing. You know being the creator of worlds and all that stuff…..
Well I hope I’m going to be too.
Because I have finally solved my plot conundrum. Having agonized over it for days, I began to hear Internal Editor stirring. Now I know once she is awake, that will be it, Six Impossible Things will never advance because Ms Muse will go into hiding. The Editing sisters – Internal and Helpful – can only show up when the draft is finished. So I did something so out in left field that it made flipping a coin look scientific.
I used a pendulum. Yes folks I held a crystal pendulum up, decided if it swung one way that was Plot One and obviously, if it swung the other way, that was Plot Two. The pendulum opted for Plot Two.
Yes, yes I know – you’re tapping your head with your finger and wondering if you will ever stop back in here again, in case my particular brand of insanity is catching. The thing is boys and girls, is that I felt immensely relieved when the pendulum swung for Plot Two – so clearly that was what I wanted to write, but was being to chicken to admit. So does it matter how I came to the realization about which plot I wanted to write? I don’t think so.
But back to the quote of the day and the act of rewriting. I’m currently in that breathless phase where the story just has to get on the page. Never mind the details, get the story down before it escapes (or gets stomped to death by her ladyship Internal Editor). In that moment, I suspect that few of us are good writers.
It is when we go back and begin to work on the details that we (hopefully) shine. At the moment adverbs are breeding faster than rabbits in Six Impossible Things and I am taking great care to ignore them. I’ll worry about them when the draft is finished, go through and turn them all into (metaphorical) bunny stew. It’s the same idea behind the multitude of ‘she exploded, she sniffed, she spat’ style speech tags. They are there simply to remind me that I need to pad that out with some description – but for now I just want to GET.IT.OUT
So if you’ll excuse me, I think I might just tiptoe back to the subject of tomorrow’s post – yWriter – and get to work….
Really, what else is there to say that? If Walt could turn a mouse into a world wide, generation spanning phenomena – what could you do?
And that’s all there is to it. Ellison, I am convinced, was being more than a little tongue in cheek with that last comment. Because although there is no midnight magic in writing (which is not the same as there being no magic, but let’s leave that for another day shall we?), writing is damned hard work.
I know my family, in particular The Man of The House (TMoTH), think I have the world’s best job. After all, what do I do all day apart from sit in front of my computer, drinking countless cups of tea and coffee, tweeting and putting words here and there on pages. Obviously, this is the cushiest number in the world folks.
HA! I wish.
First of all – my job doesn’t have a regular pay check…yet. I work but I don’t get paid until I do enough job of it that someone feels the urge to pay for it. Whereas in my old working life, even on a bad day I took home pay.
Nor is writing physical work. Rarely does my pulse start pounding a tango (unless I’m writing a particularly exciting scene – and since exciting has so many definitions let’s just move on). TMoTH is quite right on that count – I’m never going to burn a thousand calories a day in my job. Consume them maybe, but burn ‘em – nu-uh.
That doesn’t mean I don’t work hard. On a good day two thousand words can pour on to a page in a few hours. Then another couple of hours to make them readable – moving them around, cutting them, pasting them, moving them back to where they started. On a not so good day, lunchtime is there and that cursor is poking its tongue at me going “nyah nyah nyah – told ya it was impossible Ms Smarty Pants.” On a really awful day Internal Editor wakes up and starts ordering me and the story around, isn’t interested in what either of us has to say on the matter and the day ends with me scouring the Situations Vacant for jobs at K-Mart.
Rather than working out the muscles on my body, I work out my imagination and just like a physical workout it can be exhausting. By the end of the day, I really just want to forget about writing and have a nice meal with my family then vegetate while reading a book and listening to Springsteen. Or watch a movie.
I’ve read enough How To Write books and sites to know this is part of being a writer and is unlikely to change. Stephen King might be a best selling, multi-millionaire author – it’s still hard work every day. The only difference (well apart from the obvious ones) between him and me (and you if, like me you are starting out as as writer) is that his surroundings are comfier and he probably has better coffee. It’s still hard work.
Now just for the record, I can see you rolling your eyes while you hunt out that dusty old copy of Money for Nothing (song by a band called Dire Straits for those of you under 20 - give ‘em a whirl – you won’t be disappointed). I can also hear you muttering about me not knowing a real job if it bit me on my rapidly shrinking butt, so I’d just like to clarify that I’m not complaining.
You see the point I’m trying to make – as much to myself as to anyone else – is that, even though writing can be challenging (especially when you are trying to make money from it) I can’t think of a single thing I would rather be doing. It’s the one job I’ve had (and I’ve had a few despite what you may think) that I’ve felt I was doing well. I’m not trying to create great literature, I just want to write a story (or three or four) that someone will enjoy.
And like any job that requires effort, if at the end of the working day you can put down your shovel, scalpel, or pen and feel satisfied with your work – then you’ve done a good job.
Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very;” your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain
I try to leave out the parts that people skip. ~Elmore Leonard
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people. ~Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades, 1947