Category Archives: Writing Life
Ok, that previous post about goals and goal-shyness didn’t do a damn thing for me.
Honestly, it was kind of a farce, to think that summing up my notion of “success” would take me anywhere. I’m too thick for that, I think. Instead it just made me avoid this blog. Way to go!
Actually, I’ve been plugging away at those “goals” but only because I carry a mental microscope everywhere I go and the smaller the step the more manageable it seems and thus I can progress. The big picture things? They have to stay firmly tucked in my subconscious (which loves big themes and concepts like crazy) where they’re not allowed to make me feel guilty about my day to day inching along.
So, I set small goals for five weeks and it worked really well (simply: Read the next HTTS lesson. Conceive of x number of possible scene ideas. Plan x number of scenes from last week’s ideas. Write x number of scenes from last week’s planned scenes.) It worked up until last week when a combination of too much busy-ness (from taxes to passport renewals in Berlin to city-gov’t paperwork to an editing job) intersected with a serious need to re-assess the story.
Next week is a holiday for the kids, we’re going traveling and I’m going to keep on working on my story as I can, but not because I someday want to pay my bills with this thing.
I actually found my biggest motivation: Life is short and there is much to be done. If I don’t do it, I won’t feel good.
There. That’s what keeps me going.
because I am.
Most of my work right now is taking place in my head and so I look like I’m not being productive. Actually I’m not being productive if you take that word apart and try to find what I’m producing. Not many words, some vague ideas, some inklings and notions.
What I’m getting at is that I need this…this unproductivity, this lack of externally verifiable semblance of work. But I have to be careful to differentiate between moodling and flaking, active waiting and complete avoidance.
Every day it’s a challenge, to be honest. And it’s easy to be distracted (hello internet, how’s your day?) and easy to take the first thought-train that comes while I’m standing at the station, before sunrise and in the wind, waiting for a very specific, very variable and periodic locomotive with no predetermined schedule. Fickle, anyone? The driver of my locomotive, who has trained his whole life for the job might be justifiably let down when I’m off gallivanting with the driver of the train called “Weird Things People Make With Bread Dough” or the one headed toward, “Gee I Think I Need Another Gingerbread Cookie.” He pulls into station after station and only gets a glimpse of my retreating back.
I worked on GOTS through the first two or three weeks of NaNo and then realized I needed to sit with the story some more. Only I didn’t know it in exactly that term – I just felt stalled, like there was obviously something that needed to happen, but I didn’t know how to get there. I hadn’t done the level of planning needed for the mid section of the story and so had no idea where to go with it.
Attempts to just sit down and get it planned didn’t work either, for the most part. But rather than sitting down to focused planning time, I sat down and then did other things when brilliant ideas weren’t immediately forthcoming. And very few of those other things were productive, or if they were, they were productive of things other than my story.
I’ve stalled before, had creatively dry phases and times unpopulated by ideas or the drive to fulfill them. I used to worry when things went quiet, afraid there was nothing left, that the few things I’ve written, the scattering of handicrafts and small collection of drawings were all there really was, that there might really be nothing more I was capable of. Actually, I still do worry, only I think I’m getting better at my practice of letting the process go where it needs.
This week and next the kids are home from school and that does make it difficult for me to work. I wish it weren’t so but I need space and some degree of undistractedness to write the way I want. Perhaps a lot of my inconsistency comes from not being able to give myself the kind of situation I need in which to write – I have to really struggle to find it. The dangerous result is that I pick up the message, quite clearly, that if real life isn’t aligning in my favor and if I’m not writing what I want, then it obviously means I am incapable of writing what I want and I don’t have any support in the matter. In fact those are such distinctly different things, a logical fallacy that incorrectly links cause and effect, and I’m working on separating them, merely for my own mental health.
Just before the kids got out for Christmas break I stopped at the university library to see if it might work as a “studio,” and it looks like it might be a good option. So, after the new year, I’ll be giving myself the courtesy of a schedule and a workspace so I can get back to my poor dangling story.