Monthly Archives: February 2012
You may have noticed the NaBloPoMo badge on the right side of this page. NaBloPoMo is a commitment to post every day for a month. And, I have decided to jump in for March 2012.
Because I am crazy. Maybe, but I have some good reasons.
- I have been anxious to try a few new things on my blog and this is an excuse.
- Settling into a new house is a great time to build new routines. Everything about my life is in flux, and things will slowly settle into habits without my putting much effort into it. If I can tie good new habits into the new place, I will have done myself a favour. One of the habits I am trying to establish is daily writing. Having a commitment to post every day will push me in that direction – even though I can write posts in advance, it will still be a nudge.
- I am trying to push myself to write faster and having a higher output commitment will force me to do that.
So, here we go. Off for a ride. I hope you’ll check in over the month and see what is happening.
It’s moving day, the perfect day to reflect on all the things in my writing life that are in motion now.
- I am now a contributing writer for An Intense Life. The blog’s vision is to discuss giftedness from many angles and aspects.
- I won Charlotte Rains Dixon’s Valentine’s Day drawing for a journal (that I can always use) and a critique of 25 pages of manuscript. This is a much-needed kick in the pants as I have dragged on my revisions during the move. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
- Thanks to nudging from Sharon Overend, I have joined a novel-writing class, as much to force me to build a better writing schedule as to help me take my work in progress to the next level.
- My husband and I have agreed on a change to our routine that will allow me an additional 5-7 hours of writing a week. Yay!
- On the back burner, but still simmering, are plans to use the Blogging from A-Z challenge in April to launch my website of resources for recovering serious people.
It is all go, and all in the right direction. I am looking forward to being mostly unpacked and settling in to my new routines.
My two major creative projects are running in tandem for the moment.
My husband and I are making changes to our new house that we want done before we bring furniture over at the end of next week. These are the big projects, the ones that are painful to do while living in the space, the floors.
My novel is undergoing major surgery. The big stuff. The stuff where you throw out most of the words and hang on to a few core pieces of story.
In both projects, I see huge potential. But both require digging deep and getting dirty.
In the house, we are tearing up flooring and putting in new carpet and new hardwood floors. To save money, we have ripped out the old flooring ourselves and have hired a small business to put the new floors down. We split the job. I did most of two rooms and my husband finished the second room and tore up a third. Both of us have committed to this new house with blood and toil.
The revisions to my novel will not be finished so quickly, and I have to do both the destruction and the rebuilding. But I have the same sense of tearing away the surface of the work to find the centre that will hold. There will be new covering for the ideas that work and for the core story that is being told.
But, the colours, the textures, the mood, and even the point of view are all up for grabs.
As I dig deeper past my fears, I find the story needs to be told through different scenes in different locations, with a different cast of characters. There is a creamy centre to the work that I will care for, but the outer coating is being melted down into raw materials.
This is scary. I have a lot of words that will not make the cut. But, for now, I am not even looking at the words. I have a spreadsheet with a description of each scene that currently exists in my manuscript and I am transforming that scene list into a beat sheet. Only when I have completed that transformation will I start to write again.
And by then, I should have furniture and wall hangings in my new home.
But the cosmetic stuff will come later. Right now, it is all about the guts.
I must thank Patrick Ross for sharing some of the wisdom he gained from Patricia Hampl during his MFA residency, which gave me a wonderful perspective on deep editing. From them comes the idea of Re-Visioning rather than fixing the mess that currently is my work in progress.
If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it. ~Anais Nin
Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. ~Gene Fowler
Deep writing is a courageous act.
When we read a book that articulates something we hardly dare to admit to ourselves, let alone to another person, we make a connection; we are given a reprieve from our shame and our solitude. This is a precious gift.
In order to write work that moves readers, we must be courageous on the paper, writing the things we fear to say. We can use fiction and metaphor to protect ourselves partially, but unless we find a way to write those feared depths of our lived experiences, our work will remain shallow and will not touch the depths of our readers.
We must write fearward, into the heart of what troubles us.
Sharon Overend, a writer I met through the Writer’s Community of Durham Region, wrote about struggling with this as she works on her novel:
Anne, I thought, I’m afraid of Anne. After all, she’s living every parent’s worst nightmare—her kid is sick and the family aren’t handling it well.
We aren’t meshing because as her world falls apart, so must I, but I’m not, I’m not letting myself fall apart (figuratively of course).
…Anne scares the bejesus out of me, but I owe it to my readers (and to myself) to push my fears aside and write Anne’s true story.
At the end of her post, Sharon shares an exercise that helped her get closer to her character’s feeling.Copy a strong line from your existing prose onto a clean piece of paper. With that sentence as your guiding light, start writing everything you see, hear, smell, FEEL around that sentence. Keep your hand moving for fifteen minutes.
It is a good exercise, and I used it this week to help me get closer to some truths I need to write as part of my contribution to An Intense Life. Christine Fonseca has asked each of the contributors to the blog to write a letter to our teenage self about growing up gifted. I have been struggling with this letter because writing it honestly is forcing me to face the worst experiences of my life and the short-comings of well-intentioned people who love me deeply.
These issues from my teen years are the reason that I started writing my current novel. My fear of facing them is the cause of the biggest weaknesses in the novel. It is time for me to write into the hard places of my life and bleed all over the page. And I am scared.
Do you have tips, tricks, exercises, etc. that you use to help you work through your fears. Please leave them in the comments. I need all the help I can get.
Two short announcements this week.
1) The reason for this is that we sold our house this week and the final stages of that process have thrown everything out of whack. This is a good chaos, but chaos nonetheless.
2) I have joined a team of writers who will be blogging about all things gifted from various perspectives. Christine Fonseca, author of Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids, has put together a great group of writers, including Jen Merrill from Laughing at Chaos, whom I mentioned recently. My first post will be up next week. In the meantime, head on over to An Intense Life to see what is going on. There is also news on the site about Christine’s gothic YA novella Dies Irae that has just been released. I am in the middle of it and am enjoying it tremendously.