This week is my daughter’s fall break. You know, when you’re four, the trials of preschool can be overwhelming. So she’s home all week to rest up before becoming a Big Dragon in the “fall semester.”
Our house, and my writing practice, is trashed. To get any work done I basically have to sit here and give her assignments, and not worry about the mess she makes. Make me a picture. Staple this piece of paper until it’s full of staples. Right now she is “scanning” things with my mouse, like we’re at the supermarket, her art projects stacked up around me like leaves caught in a fence on a windy day. Earlier she got ahold of the Febreze and “cleaned” the whole house. It wreaks in here.
I’m keeping this post brief. I’m hoping to get some writing done tonight once she’s in bed. We’ll see if I have any energy left for that. I finally get why my parents were always so excited when I had summer school.
I met with my writer’s group on Wednesday and we got to talking about how hard it is to focus on our fiction sometimes, in the light of all the distractions that are available via the internet. One of my writing buddies told me that she sets aside time every morning to write before she allows herself to do anything online.
For her that means sitting down to write as soon as she wakes up around 8, then by 10 she clicks over to check emails and start her regular business day. She told me that really, there’s nothing in her life that can’t wait that one business hour for her to attend to it.
It made me realize that my life is in a pretty similar spot. I can’t start writing until 9 when I sit down in my office (I’m busy with the kids before that), but really, most of the time, my career will not collapse in on itself if I don’t check my email for two hours.
So it’s been two days now. I come into my office, sit down and just start writing. It sounds like such a small thing, but it’s been awesome. Something about giving my creative work priority – before my brain is cluttered with daily life – allows me to make some real progress. I hope I can keep it up.
I know at some point I will have clients with a rush job or some other thing that demands my attention early in the day, but generally speaking, this is a habit I’m going to try to keep.
So if you need me (I mean REALLY need me) before 11, call me.
I blogged a while back about my writer’s notebook. It’s something I learned from Janet Fitch in a class at USC. Write down everything. Any time a verbal tick or landscape catches my attention for any reason I pull out my handy little notebook and write it down. Unfortunately, with all the distractions in my life, I have fallen short on the second, and vitally important part of transferring those notes to some sort of organized filing system.
This morning I am working on a scene where my character’s crush is blossoming. A few months ago I had this very visceral memory of a crush I once had. I don’t know what sparked it, but I was smart enough to not question and instead just pull over and write down what I remember it feeling like.
The trouble is, this morning, when I could totally use that note, I can’t find it. I have two notebooks and two separate files for notes that I tear out, and it doesn’t seem to be anywhere! Arrrgggg! I wrote it down so I wouldn’t HAVE to remember.
On the plus side, as I was sifting through my notes, I found I actually have a wealth of story ideas and character quirks that I might be able to use. I just need to get more organized so I can find them when I need them. So I guess some time soon I will need to go through the files and notebooks and type everything up. Then I can print them out and stick them in a binder I keep (or used to – it hasn’t been updated in a long while) for that precise purpose.
Sweet. Another thing to add to my to do list.
I‘ve decided to become a runner.
After three months on bed rest and then actually squeezing the little guy out, my body is not the body I remember. I feel weak, and I’m tired of it. So I googled up a storm and designed a plan to ramp up slowly into a running practice. Yesterday was my first day – I did thirty minutes; three walking followed by two running, repeated six times. It felt good.
The best thing about this plan is the two minutes. Running is hard, but for two minutes I can do just about anything. And unlike my usual attempts at running, I wasn’t playing the mental game of “how much further can I go” I knew exactly how much longer I would be running, which allowed me to switch my focus to the act of running. I spent the two minute intervals of running time trying to find a groove, a comfort in the motion of it. It was cool.
It reminded me of my writing. Just like exercise, writing is hard to get back into when you step away from it for any length of time. And that’s why a writing practice is so important. Rather than pushing myself to get through this chapter or word count or what ever, when I set aside time to write, and I accept that writing is what I’m doing, I can free myself to settle into it, to find a comfort in the challenge of it. By embracing the act of writing and ignoring the part of me that whines “this is too hard…” I can let go and fall into that zone, the one where words just pour.
And on that note, time to stop blogging and get back to the novel.
I was at a conference a while back and a guy told a story about a writer who had taken a leap as a professional, and upped his price. This writer was surprised and excited to find that his new client didn’t balk at the quoted rate and posted a note to Twitter – something like “just landed a job for three times my usual price!” The presenter joked that hopefully this new client wasn’t following the writer’s Twitter feed.
I think about that a lot when I’m trying to decide what to write about for my blog posts. There are so many things I would love to share that I just can’t. Say I agreed to write an article for an online venue for free and the editor is holding out on giving me the byline. Or, say a fellow writer has given me a crap manuscript to read and I’m not sure how to give them the feedback. Or, say I’m working on a piece for hire and the client has five individuals giving conflicting feedback. (Two out of those three are true. One is total fabrication.)
The point is, I can’t really blog about some of the most interesting shit going on in my writing life because I honestly don’t know who might happen by for a peek. In fact, it’s the people I am currently working with who are most likely to stop by my blog, as I have an automatic signature on my email linking directly to it.
Honestly, I think I’m safer blogging about my husband these days since he’s way to busy to read my blog. But then again, my father-in-law gets posts delivered directly to his kindle, so gotta be careful there, too. (Hi Juan!)
How do other bloggers out there deal with this delicate balancing act? How to engage online in a frank and honest way without sharing details that really don’t need to be immortalized through the internet?
Would love to hear any thoughts y’all might have on this one.