SO, another tidbit lifted from Jamey Hatley’s blog modern conjure: Ann Patchett’s article about her 32-day consecutive writing resolution. A writer with five (at that time) novels under her belt needing to remind herself that writing is a job? Wow, okay–I don’t feel so bad that I’ve been confused and struggling to affirm that in my own summertime pursuit.
I admit I have had a few awkward moments. Because I am endlessly curious about new places, there’s a big part of me that’s prompting me to explore this neighborhood of uptown New Orleans where I’m staying. There’s also the Magazine Cover part of my brain (for lack of a better term) that thinks I should be living according to should’s: I should run a billion (or one) mile a day, I should sleuth out which yoga/grocery/bar is the best deal blah blah blah. I know, living in Magazine Cover brain suite is great fun, you’re betting, huh?
Anyhoo, it was around 2pm yesterday that I realized: writing is my job. And I’m blessed to get to work my job this summer without the added strain of earning a paycheck. SO, sort of like Ann Patchett discussed in said article above, I’m thinking of it like she thinks of her husband’s job: she says goodbye to him around 7am, and sees him again 12 hours later.
So I’ve been getting up around 6:30, getting to work around 7, and quitting around noon. The part left to work out is a routine for post-noon. I want to look over/type stuff I wrote and continue reading the books I’m using for fuel, but I get hung up on the little issue of where to do it. Going back to the same coffeeshop might be the solution for now, after lunch at the apartment and picking up the laptop. (Still writing long hand in composition books, even though sometimes I write in the “wrong” composition books, because I start out writing a journal/imaginary letter to someone/idea for blog, and I end up spewing Actual Words for the Book. Whatever. That’s what hands are for, to rip the pages out and stick them in the pile of Book pages.
I’ve found it funny that as I enter drafting Chapter 3, (still on track with the page count–5 handwritten pages a day, which is around 180 words a page) I felt the story line break down a bit, and I needed to type stuff on the computer, because the images were fragments, or, as Lidia Yuknavitch says in Chronology of Water, memories in ‘retinal flashes.’ The complication is that this part of the book is close to my last novel attempt, which is close to my lived experience. I really struggled trying to wade through the inspiration for Chapter 3 without succumbing to entrapment in Old Chapter 3 (burned but saved on computer). That’s a real hazard of typing long projects for me–I revise so much that I’m bound to find some earlier version of an image if I just do a search function.
When you aren’t sure what you want and who you are pleasing, you need to write by longhand so your herself can take the lead, and not the numerous previous iterations that broke your herself’s heart.
Speaking of heartache….looking back on that previous novel is really like pressing down on a bruise. It’s downright painful. And I want to pluck certain passages, and it’s right and good to do so, but the cost is facing all the reminders of what went wrong last time, the places where my brain kept talking but my heart wandered off, or the places where I said stuff I didn’t know soulfully to be a part of a story I needed to write.
A lot of people don’t get that writing is a job, me often included. But it’s important not to get caught up in the whole picture and to concentrate on word by word. It’s not a good time to dwell on the past; it’s time to appreciate the present. I have an outline this time; I have a good sense of the point of this; I am 4 chapters down, 10 to go. (Preface counts as one, folks.) I’m almost one-third of the way through this summer experiment, and sorta kinda close to that in my outline.
Who cares? I’m trying. That’s all that counts. Tomorrow I will try the pit-stop for lunch plan at the apartment, and go back out into the wealthy wilds of uptown Magazine Street.
But until then, it’s finally time for Studiola visitor number two!!!