Month: January 2008

Do not pass Go, do not collect $200!

I have been terrible these past couple weeks. It’s as if after finishing my novel I gave myself a free pass to slack! Well, the pass has been revoked. It’s time to get my butt in gear. I have about 40 days to whip my first 50 pages into shape for a certain contest, plus a couple short stories that have been sitting around waiting to be finished, plus another novel that won’t write itself!

And that’s only in my writing life. There’s also the full-time job, the potential side web project (probably a bad idea), and the boyfriend, the pup, the family, and the friends. Oh dear.

If only I didn’t get so tired…

The rules

From “Rough Draft,” the Cincinnati Writers’ Project newsletter:

There are precisely two cannots in the writing universe without caveats. 1) You cannot bore your reader, 2) You cannot piss off your editor. It’s that simple.

I haven’t actually attended the group yet (that comes on Wednesday) but from their newsletter I can tell two things: they’re funny, and they know what they’re talking about. Both could be good for me.

The wisdom of Gwen Stefani

Sometimes it’s so hard to find what it is I’m trying to say. People might think you can turn creativity on and off, but it’s not like that. It just kinda comes out. A mash-up of all these things you collect in your mind. You never know when it’s going to happen, but when it does, it’s like magic. It’s just that simple, and it’s just that hard.

(You can watch Gwen’s commercial on HP’s website here.)

She’s got it, man. I mean, there’s a lot of hard work that goes into “creativity,” but you can’t make a fire without a spark, no matter how hard you rub those two sticks together.

Some days there are more sparks than others. Some days there are no sparks at all. (Those days stink.) Some days there are tons of sparks, but I’m too busy rubbing those two sticks somewhere else (work, sleep, relationships, self) that I miss out. I think that’s what I hate the most: inconvenient inspiration.

It used to happen to me all the time in class. In fact, I get most of my ideas “when I shouldn’t.” When I was in school, that meant I was scribbling in my journal instead of taking notes on double integrals, or the Battle of Gettysburg, or the function of the amygdala. Some of those ideas panned out — in fact, I’m still working on some of them now — but a lot didn’t. But that doesn’t matter, because they were coming hard and fast, and it was fun.

I don’t get as many ideas anymore. I think it’s because my mind isn’t being as stimulated, at least not in as many different ways as it was when I was taking a breadth of courses with a diversity of people. I thought maybe it would happen at work: inspiration would strike right in the middle of a call with a client! I’d have to covertly scribble my thoughts in the midst of my project notes! My boss would wonder why I suddenly looked so happy, and I’d have to say that I was just really excited about next round of proofreading!

But what’s worse than having to cover up my inspiration is not getting it at all.

Okay, I do still get ideas. It’s not like I’m a dried-up well (pardon the cliché) or a has-been at age 22. (God I hope not.) But I think I need more stimulation. Work is pleasant, but it’s routine. I need to be confronted by knowledge, moved to tears, astounded by reality.

So what’s my plan for now?

Watch PBS.

Honestly! I don’t know if it’s a real solution, but it’s a start. Watching PBS, reading the news, listening to people… it’s all about the stories. The people, the places, the real emotions that we feel and deal with. The more I take in, the more I “mash up” (to use Gwen’s phrase). The more I take in, the more I can spit out. And polish. And shine.

And man do I want to shine.

(random thought)

I don’t write to espouse my views.

I write to espouse viewing.

The End

Yesterday at 11:20 pm, I accomplished my most important goal for 2007: I finished the first draft of my first novel, The Good Daughters.

It’s an amazing feeling to have finished even the first draft!

Now my goals for 2008 are to revise The Good Daughters and send it out for publishing, and to write the first draft of a second novel.

The work of a writer is never done, I suppose. (Not until they stop being a writer, anyway.)

But I don’t mind. :)

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