the 36/32 edition
the fraction of the title refers to my way of tracking my 32 days of writing. as of today, i’ve written every day of the new year. i met my 32 days of writing goal as inspired by the ann patchett article. and i’m still writing on day 36. i am thisclose to completing a significant chunk of book (over 10,000 words) so i am committing to continue the everyday writing until i get this section done. i’ve learned a lot during these 32 36 days. i think that this challenge came at a perfect time in my work. the beginning of the year is a great time to me for solidifying goals. this practice really helped me to live my priorities. how many times have i said how important my writing is to me, but haven’t made the space for it? my friend horton humble (a fantastic painter) always says, from the work comes the Work. i showed up for the everyday work and the Work, showed up for me.
the wednesday edition
as usual, just when i think things are falling apart on the page, they are really coming together. i spent last week in a kind of low-grade panic that whispered this thing will NEVER be done. but, i did my time at the writing table. i tried to follow the directive issued to me by my book to trust. i surrendered my way to the book’s way. endured the threshold guardians and recieved my reward. i often have a kind of vague notion that some handful of details belong in the book. i go along picking up things, sorting them into pockets–the”this book” pocket or the “next books” pocket. sometimes i carry around these pieces for years, sometimes i know where they go immediately. but every now and then i’ll take the details out and stare at them like tea leaves, hoping for them to make some sense. i’ll be writing along, feeling blocked feeling the story calling out for something. i’ll pluck something out and realize that one of those seemingly random details is exactly what is needed. it had been there. waiting.
the breakdown to breakthrough
i had a kind of quiet meltdown yesterday. i did it all at the writing table. i arrived earlier than usual, the book pulled me out of my usual routine. i sat there, waiting for something, anything to tell me where to begin. i just got ovewhelmed by the worldbuilding, trying to get the underpinnings right so this thing will stand up. by lunchtime i seriously considered going back to bed and watching the real housewives of atl marathon. but i sat there and wrestled with the questions that most writers face (although percival says that he doesn’t stress). am i doing the right thing? am i doing it in the right way? should i have just stayed, oh a secretary or something? this hesitation was nothing but fear in physical form. i could feel it in my body, this visceral desire to flee. i anchored myself down and asked the book what it needed. bravery it answered. i need bravery. i had none, so i looked elsewhere and found an interview with junot diaz at the sydney writers festival. it helped.
in the thick of it edition
i haven’t been counting hours or pages. i haven’t been tracking my progress in any tangible way except for the way that i feel at the end of a writing day. there is a kind of buzzing that is alive in my body, where the world seems to be muted, wrapped in gauze and my head is full of white noise and static. i am simply following the thread of this work and it is leading me exactly where it wants me to go. i guess this is the space of surrender. and the work is all the better for it.
the happy birthday edition…
i have been quiet lately. on the blog and in real life. at least four times this week friends have made that particular statement to me. it is true. i can feel the quiet descending all around me like snow. i’m not saying much, but there is much going on beneath the surface. the book, once again, is teaching me how to write it. forcing slowdowns when necessary. whispering so that i will lean in closer and really connect. everything else is receding, making room for this work. i keep reminding myself to just show up and do the work each day, to proceed with a pace of grace. but still there is the urge to rush, to pull out the measuring stick and bemoan my process. but as my friend horton always says, “from the work, comes the WORK”. so true, so true. there is no WORK without the daily mundane struggles, without the infinitesimal accomplishments. the workaday ritual becomes the spell that calls the genius forward. and when i am present, when i am patient the genius always arrives with more than i could have ever dreamed.
whew, long time. i am a bit stunned that it is already may, my birthday month. what’s going on with the novel? i am sinking back into the sea of it. the other day i was in such a dreamstate that i passed the turn to my own house! that is scary for most sane people, but that means i’m right where i need to be. in this space, everything feeds the novel and the novel feeds me.
tooting my own whistle edition
remember when i cryptically mentioned some good news back in jan? well, i am sooo very pleased to let you know that my story, Dream Season will appear in the next issue of the Oxford American. Marc Smirnoff and his gang were so very incredibly wonderful to work with. I am in the company of some really fantastic writers. If you get a chance, make sure to check it out.
staring out the window edition…
much of my “writing” gets done staring out of the window. i also rock back and forth in my chair, mumble. i hate it, not only because it makes me look like a crazy (ier) person, but because it doesn’t feel like writing. thank goodness i understand that this is just as important as the words. in this space is where the big themes bounce around in my head. sometimes it feels like an idea map, just not written down. i intend to make work with layers and layers of meaning so i need time to just work on architecture. i don’t feel safe here. there is no map, i must make the map. this is where my “who does she think she is” voice rises up in me and literally i feel like i’m choking. it makes perfect sense that my throat chakra would get all out of wack. it is where i have to admit that i’m writing about love and history and “big” stuff. i don’t have a trick for this part. when i’m clocking pages, i tell myself that i’m just the secretary. but this plotting, underpinning mapping space it is a murky place and i always worry that i will never find my way to the “safer” place of pages and wordcounts. but i always do.
the in just under the wire edition…
so, happy new year? has everyone else had an insane start to the 009? whew. not a moment to catch my breath. so much has happened, is happening. i’m just kinda worn out, but didn’t want to let the month pass without checking-in. this month didn’t go as expected at all. i had some delicious surprises, some perplexing situations and much more. i’m out of words at the moment, but i am working, writing and finding new ways to love.
the what have you done for me lately edition
i can have a major problem with what i like to call the janet jackson complex, as in “what have you done for me lately?” when it comes to myself. i am much more likely to zone in on what i have yet to accomplish, what remains undone than celebrate my wins. i am the head cheerleader and champion for my friends, but when it comes to my own accomplishments, not so much.
often such a “win” goes uncelebrated or barely acknowledged, but luckily i have GREAT friends who don’t allow me to play small. friends who catch me when i am playing small and use the appropriate amount of force to correct my attitude. so instead of complaining that i’m still not finished with this section, that i still haven’t been properly recording my hours, that it is not going FAST enough, that i’ve been worried about the relevance of the whole novel (will anybody even care?), i will celebrate a win. (did you notice how i still got to complain about those things? slick, i tell you).
but anyhoo, this year i set a goal to submit work at least 12 times this year. this goal would be more submissions than I have made in the oh, decade or so since i started writing. but yesterday, a month BEFORE deadline i’ve submitted to 13 places with another on my desk to mail out tomorrow. i have been terribly slack about submitting my work, but i wanted to show the universe that i was fully participating in co-creating my success as a writer. so i committed to play the literary lotto at least 12 times this year. and i did it. now, i haven’t gotten a single acceptance yet, but that really doesn’t bother me. i’m proud i did it. yay me!
now, if i could just finish this novel quicker. ;o) just kidding…kinda…