It seems like everyone I know has recently started a blog. Most of us are trying to stick to a theme (mine is meant to be the journey of a writer, just in case you’ve missed that). But about six weeks into it you suddenly find you are writing about your cat, your impending high school reunion, or your inability to embracing the move from daylight savings time. The theme gets a bit lost. So when is it okay to deviate from your theme?
As I said in an earlier entry, every action in a writer’s world can be put down as gathering material, likewise all writing can be passed off as ‘exploratory creativity’ –but when does a blog move from sharing your views on a theme to gratuitous ‘me-ism’? And does it matter? After all, would readers rather hear about my success on Saturday when I forced myself to sit at the computer until I wrote a page and actually ended up with five (true story). Or would they rather read about the challenges in making six fingered gloves, complete with false fingers, so I could attend a ‘P’ party as a person with Polydactyly instead of a pirate (of which there were eight).
The first story, while it gives me the warm-fuzzies and fits well with my theme, won’t ring many people’s bells as a story. Conversely, the six fingered gloves have nothing to do with writing (despite the apparent benefits, they didn’t improve my typing speed) but probably piques more interest.
But I think it is important to keep with a theme, so here is my writer-ly advice for this week; write. Sit down, allow for no excuses, and put words on the page. It has always been my last line of attack when I don’t want to write, and it always works. Only once you have those precious (even if they are crap) words in the computer can you waste your time on other endeavours, like building six fingered gloves.
I had big intentions of writing lots of great stuff today. But then this glorious Melbourne autumnal day snuck up on me with its luminous blue sky, perfect temperature and sweet-caress breeze, and next thing I know it is 5pm and I’ve done almost nothing at all.
The birds were singing, calling me out to play. The bugs (while avoiding the afore mentioned birds) also knew the day was grand enough to warrant rubbing their legs together, or wobbling their bums or doing whatever it is that bugs do to make their ‘isn’t it a great day’ noises. It seemed that everything that could herald a beautiful day was doing so, and who was I to ignore this? Isn’t this, after all, what life is all about?
But here is the fantastic thing about being a writer; even when I’m being as lazy as can be, when my biggest act of writing for the day is to push out these 386 words for my blog, even if I was to watch back to back episodes of Oprah for the entire day (which on a day as beautiful as this one would be nothing short of a crime against nature) I get to put it all down to gathering material.
So I gathered material while reading a book in the sun, then I went down and gathered some more material over a yummy lunch at a cafe in Camberwell. After that I strolled down to the shops, gathering material at numerous retail therapy outlets, before concluding with a walk home (via the long way), with much material gathering occurring along the way. And just when you thought that I would not be able to fit any more material in, I gathered six games of FreeCell material before opening Word to write this blog entry.
So you can see, so far I’ve dedicated this entire day to writing. One could argue that I’ve even earned a break! Okay, that might be pushing it. There are still a few good writing hours left in the day, I might get that next chapter started yet… But the sun is still out, maybe I should go for just one more walk? The cats come out about now and they do enjoy their belly rubs…
I don’t think I am doing this visualisation thing quite right. Do you picture a contract, or the email where they ask you for your book, or do you see the actual book itself? Perhaps you visualise the people lined up out the door for a signing? Or maybe you see yourself in the house of your dreams sitting in the library you have always wanted (with archaeopteryx on one wall and books lining the others) plugging away at your computer as you work on that next book.
I tried them all, but in doing so I felt like I was giving mixed signals to the powers that be. Having said that, perhaps it is no coincidence that this week I got a ‘hold’ request for a story. A hold request means someone likes your story, but they don’t want to buy it just yet. Often it is happens when a submission deadline has not yet closed or co-editors are working on something together, so other stuff might still come in and bump the story.
I know that sounds negative, but the truth is it is very exciting, something akin to when that first lotto ball falls down and it is one of your numbers. You haven’t won yet, but you certainly haven’t lost and you are a lot closer to winning than a lot of other people out there. And that is exactly how it feels; close to winning. To know you piqued enough interest that they think it ‘could’ find a home in their anthology is such a warm feeling.
So from now on I will add visualisation to my weekly task list, but unlike the ‘cleaning my wardrobe’ task, it will be one that I actually do.
Until next week, my friends,
Well, I opened my computer as promised, but the words did not flow. I need to turn off my internet connection, deactivate Freecell and stop going to the library! I wrote two novel synopses and then I read a book that explained how to write a synopsis. So this week I will be re-writing two novel synopses, well re-writing might be a bit kind, let’s be honest, I’ll be starting from scratch. At least I was reading about writing, so that’s nearly like doing it… Right?
I do have hope on the horizon in the form of WriMoFoFo (Write More For Four). My writers group, SuperNova, begins WriMoFoFo in a week. It is our answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) held in November. November never really works for any of us, and we don’t want to limit ourselves to just one novel, so Elizabeth (in our group) hatched a plan for a really lax version which she dubbed WriMoFoFo. It lets us either write new words or edit old ones, and we each get to set our own target. The big thing that it does offer is accountability. Each week Liz posts our word count on a ‘leader board’ under our pseudonyms (accountability can go just so far after all).
Last year it worked a treat for me. I was working on my 2012 novel and it was flowing well, I managed nearly 25,000 words in the four weeks. This year I’ll be editing said novel, and trying to somehow make it less dependent on 2012 – given the nature of the business and how long it could take to get anyone to look at it, let alone print it. But I’m hopeful of another 25,000 word month.
So, I’ll waste the rest of this evening’s writing time on working out how to give the appearance of having Freecell deleted from my computer, without actually deleting it. I wouldn’t want to do anything to rash after all.
I might just play a few goodbye Freecell games first…