With writing, I’m often stymied as I await the muses’ participation. These past two weeks, I’ve turned it around on them. Writing steadily, finding the path each morning, I keep the final destination in mind. Quiet and watchful, the muses gather around me. “Where you going with this?” they keep asking.
Chuckling, I tell them, “You’ll have to wait and see.”
It’s nice making them wait to see what happens next. I feel like the novel in progress in almost at an end (draft five). I edit and revise as I write, grinding down the story, molding and shaping it. Not to jinx anything, but I have a good rhythm formed for now, generally writing a bit, then going off, reading, doing housework or other things, then returning to write more, then editing. For now, I’m focused on finishing this draft. In the meanwhile, a solid grasp of what I’m going to do in the next editing stage has crystalized.
It’s been thirteen months since I began writing this one. Writing it required process changes driven by social distancing and coffee shop shutdowns. I used to leave the house, walk to get into the writing mode, then enter a coffee house, sit with my laptop, and do the deed. I’ve had to adjust. That was a surprising challenge. I’m pleased (but anxious) that I could adjust.
Pleased and anxious remains the watch words for writing this. I worry and fret, then tell myself not to worry and fret, just write, but yet, worry and fret, hunting through words, finding my way. It’s surprising to see that I’m at five hundred and ten Word pages, 145K words. I’ve already done some cutting but more is due once the ending is reached.
Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.
I’ve been listening to interviews via podcasts and Youtube for the past two weeks and distilled some essential truths. I knew these but have never paused to write them down. Thought I’d do that today. Here it is, the culmination of a hours of interviews with writers, editors, and agents.
- There’s no thing such as writer’s block. I’d concluded that myself long ago but happy to hear other writers acknowledge that. What is often called writer’s block can be insecurity, doubt, a lack of self-confidence, uncertainty about where to go next, and anxiety about how it’s all going. It can also just be a mental pause to allow your mind to work things out, re-balance, and find the new direction. I never worry it, just monitor it, like a pot that’s boiling, waiting for the right moment for the next move. Meanwhile, I’ll usually work on some aspect of the novel in parallel. None of this is particularly novel to fiction writing; I had the same issues and followed the same process when I was in the military. Back then, it wasn’t fiction writing, but organizing my mind to create standard operating procedures, emergency checklists, operational plans, performance reviews, etc. The same methodology was employed as a civilian in my roles as a customer service manager, product manager, technical support manager, and analyst.
- You must write everyday. No, breaks ARE permitted. I once believed and fervently followed this. But it can lead to burn out and isolation. Like most things in existence, a balance is required for optimum results. Yet, admittedly, I’m addicted to the writing process. I love imagining what has happened and then chasing the question and answer to what comes next. I enjoy finding new ways of playing with phrases and exploring characters. It’s an entertaining escape.
- Having stated that I don’t need to write every day, I admit, though, that I’m driven to write fiction every day, even if it’s just to add one sentence that suddenly arrives in my head. I never stop writing in my head. I might consciously relegate the current novel in process to a lower priority for a period, but that is usually to permit my brain to address the story and arise with the answer to the question, what next? Besides, even if I’m not doing the novel in process, I’m typically thinking of other stories to write.
- Fiction writing is incredibly immersive. It is for me, but I think writing is a personal matter. How you go about it compare to how I go about it is bound to be different. This list won’t have the same items and slant for you as it does for me.
- There are so many stories to be written, it’s a boundless cornucopia of ideas. The challenge is that they all take time and other resources to develop and complete. Frustrating, fun, and never ending.
- No one else cares about what you’re writing when you’re trying to establish yourself as a writer. Pretty much true, outside of other writers doing the same. In my experience, if this is not true for you, you’re lucky. My family and friends will sometimes ask, “Are you still writing?” The question amuses me. Like, why would I stop? I’ve also learned that I don’t want to share what I’m writing with people when it’s in progress. Excited as I become, I don’t want to jinx it or milk the energy. Besides that, trying to convert what I’m writing, which is meant to be read, into verbal conversation plays tricks with the order of progress. Also, what I had planned often takes unusual spins, so where I thought I was heading takes detours and undergo changes. That’s okay.
- Writers enjoy talking to other writers. Absolutely true for me. I enjoy talking about the process with other writers. Some of that is venting, but I’m also interested in stealing ideas, borrowing habits, and attempting new methods. Unfortunately for me, I’m mostly an introvert, except when plied with alcohol, whereupon I become obnoxious, so going to writer conferences is hit and miss. Sometimes I find a groove with a group there but it’s infrequent enough that I shy away from them now. I did have a writing support group here, but the folks moved away. I considered Zooming with them, but we struggled to find a common time. Lot going on with their families…or so they claimed.
- Writing is a lonely space. Patience and persistence is required.
- Trust yourself. Given the isolation and solitude, this is probably the most challenging for me. I need to write and trust myself — but what if my trust is misplaced? What if I’m so far into my own words that I’m blind to what I’ve written. What if I’m insane and lack talent and ability and don’t realize it? Does it matter if I’m happy writing and striving to translate thoughts into tales?
That’s short of ten. Tell me your writing truths. Help me fill in my list. Cheers
Hello! Welcome to another edition of ‘Wednesday’s Theme Music’. Today is March 10, 2021. Skyorb rise was at 6:32 AM. Skyorb set will be at 6:12 PM. After dipping to 32 degrees F during the night, the outside temperature has bounced up to 39 under a flat gray sky. Wet surfaces glisten and shine outside as pine and oak trees peer out of fog banks a few hundred yards up the mountain. Rain looks imminent.
Music today comes by way of writing efforts yesterday. After writing, I was out on a walk, thinking through where the story was and the paths it was following, formulating the tactics for picking up the paths and taking them forward. After a time of this, satisfied with my decisions and directions, ready to turn home because sunrise was a few minutes away and I was a mile from home, Van Halen’s “Finish What Ya Started” (1988) arrived in my mental music stream. I enjoy the riff that begins this song, and how the song builds off it.
Stay positive — you know the rest. After a year of the coronavirus pandemic, you should, lessen y’all been hiding under a rock or sumpten. I’ll say it all anyway: stay positive, test negative, wear a mask, and get the vax. Of course, once you get the vax, some of the guidance changes for you, so stay up to date, ‘kay? Be smart. Stay safe.
I didn’t write yesterday. Yes, it was hard. Habit, desire, and intentions all draw me back. Getting lost in a good book when reading is easy and entertaining. Its the same experience, but deeper, when writing one.
So, I didn’t sit down with pen and paper or at the laptop to write, but the writing continued in my brain. As the story resides in my mind and the novel is taking shape in the computer, many things are put into the tale. Yesterday, I made decisions to cut some adventures to keep the story tidier, reduce complications, and keep the pace up.
That’s the writing life. Until it’s done, you’re discovering and nurturing characters, story, concept, playing it first through mental processes, then spilling it across pages. In the case of novels with a sweep being driven by its setting or time – say, historic, science fiction or fantasy, or a different culture – added issues with focus are brought on by how much of that other place is to be included. It’s a personal decision for every tale. As the writer and creator, it’s a challenge to shape it all. When I do, I create a lot that I enjoy. Readers don’t require the entire world, so I need to strip some of my darlings from the tale.
The ones set aside never completely go away. On the computer, they’re put into other documents, annotated with their heritage, along with the reasons they were cut. They live on in my mind, too, perhaps resurfacing in other stories.
Got my coffee. Time to sit down again and write like crazy, at least one more time.