Update – 24 January 2019

I’ve slowly been working on the novel, still as yet untitled. One day I wrote five pages in half an hour, and the next I wrote a half a page in an hour. But I am doing it. I am writing.

I’ve changed my main character’s name again. Cora didn’t quite fit. She’s Sofia now, and it feels right. Anyone who’s written may understand the struggle of a difficult character. Still, I love her for it, and I love her lots. She already feels like a friend.

I’ve written a lot in the past two weeks. I’m not sure I’m going to keep all of what I’ve written. I may condense it. The scene I’m thinking of specifically is nonessential to the story. It is, however, essential to the characters and their relationships, and leads to smaller conflicts between characters. So, in a way, I guess it is essential. Plus, there’s the fact that I don’t plan on going as in-depth as I have on the building of this relationship throughout the rest of the story.

I think the action I’m going to take regarding this is no action at all. I’ll keep what I’ve written, for now, and just keep writing. If I feel the need to add or edit, I’ll do it later. God knows I have a problem with going back to what I’ve written and editing or adding to it, so there’s no need to worry that the scene in question will be forgotten, because it most definitely won’t be.

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Reading

In addition to rewriting the book I started, I’ve been doing a lot of reading. Some of it, unfortunately, has been rereading. But, sometimes you just need the company of an old friend. Mine are Rilla Blythe and Harry Potter.

The new books I’ve been reading (or, at least, new to me) are Tony’s Wife by my favorite contemporary author, Adriana Trigiani; An American Marriage by Tayari Jones; and Georgia, by Dawn Tripp. So far I’m enjoying them all. I’m the furthest along in An American Marriage, but I imagine Tony’s Wife will soon catch up to it.

Another book I was previously reading and will soon pick up again is Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, which interested me mostly because one of the three main characters has synesthesia. I cannot express how much I love to read about characters with synesthesia. It is one of the reasons I have realized that representation in general, whether based on gender, race, sexuality, religion, or anything else, is so important. I love to be represented, and others should experience the same joy.

But I digress. Like I said, I have been reading. Reading is good, but I feel it is a little bit of a cop-out for me. “But I’m reading! That counts for writing!” The truth is, writing counts for writing, and I can’t call myself a writer without doing that activity. Reading is essential to the process, but writing is more so.

What are you reading? Leave a comment down below!

Walking the Walk

Walking the Walk

Well, I do a really good job of talking the talk. I’m trying to actually walk the walk.

Yes, you guessed it. I’m writing.

Well, I do write every day. But, I bounce around projects as I am inspired to write them. Sometimes I create even more projects for myself, which is silly, since I already have so many going. Regardless, I do write every day, and that writing is important, make no mistake. It keeps the conversation with myself going, and the creative juices flowing. It is practice, and practice is essential in any art. But still, careening from project to project, finishing and beginning and making progress on any number of them, is definitely not the most productive use of my time.

The book that I’ve been working on for about a year had eluded me for awhile. I’d write it in bursts, and stalled out with about forty pages written. While bursts are certainly better than nothing, if I truly want to be a writer, they aren’t a sustainable way of making a living. I signed up for NaNoWriMo, but I haven’t yet begun anything and I am now so far behind I don’t know if I’d ever catch up to where I should be by now. But, I still think I’ll try. I finally have an idea for it, at least.

I’ve also been reading fiction again, an excellent way to study how to write. I’m currently reading Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss, The Brightest Star in the Sky by Marian Keyes, and Big Stone Gap by my favorite contemporary author, Adriana Trigiani. I had been reading all nonfiction, and while that was fine, my body ached for a story – a storybook, fiction. So I sold some old books that I don’t need in my future library and picked up a few new novels. I am enjoying them immensely.

But I digress. I’ve been trying to work every day on the novel I’ve begun, the one starring Vivien. I am, I am happy to report, on the forty-sixth page. Vivien lives!

Happy writing, all!

 

Chicago and Aloneness

A few weekends ago, thanks to the immense generosity of a friend, I flew to Chicago. I was there for two reasons: to visit my generous friend, and to visit the boyfriend, who was passing through the city with work. Of course, seeing the two of them was the best part of the trip. But there was another part that I found profoundly enjoyable.

One day, while Ben was at work, I took an Uber from the hotel to the nearby train station, bought myself a one-day pass, and figured out how to get downtown. To be fair, it was a pretty straight shot, but I was proud of myself nonetheless. After wasting some time and no money in Sephora, I walked to Michigan Avenue. I ducked out of the cold and the misty rain into the lobby of a building, and rode its elevator to the American Writers Museum.

The American Writers Museum takes up the second floor of the building where it is housed, and it is delightful. Though the merchandise is at the entrance, it is shunted off to the corners on either side of the sales/information desk. I found that refreshing, because it showed that making money is not the primary reason for the institution. So many museums have huge gift shops, and I cannot blame them for this, as most museums and galleries are not-for-profit institutions and run on donations. But the fact that that wasn’t pushed down the throat of the visitor at the American Writers Museum was refreshing.

The American Writers Museum is every bit as delightful as any writer or aspiring writer could desire. The museum exhibits are arranged around the perimeter of the floor of the building, with the visitor arriving at the entrance upon completion of the circuit. There is a room decorated in the art of classic American children’s books, including The Wizard of Oz, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, and Charlotte’s Web. The museum then moves to a timeline of great American authors. There is a room with books and chairs with informative plaques on the walls, which leads into my favorite room of all: the room full of typewriters. That exhibit allows for the visitor to load some paper into any of the typewriters and type and write away, which I did, for about half an hour, probably to the chagrin of my fellow visitors.

The pleasantest part of my visit to downtown Chicago and the American Writers Museum was the fact of my aloneness. I answered to no one, and no one answered to me. There is a responsibility that companions have to one another, whether they want to or not. Though no one wants to admit they sway the way another moves through space and time, they do, intentionally or unintentionally. If I had been to the museum with Ben or my friend, I would have felt an obligation to them – to keep up, to examine what they examined, perhaps to rush – through no fault or design of their own. They would have felt the same obligation to me, though I would ardently desire them not to be affected by my presence at all. But it was lovely to soak in what I wanted to, to rush past what did not interest me (though this did not really happen in this instance), and to have a long and rich conversation with myself completely in my head, and choose whether or not to talk to someone else. I spent most of my visit in silence, and it was delicious not to make noise for such a long stretch.

If you’re wondering, I cannot recommend the American Writers Museum enough. I recommend it for everyone, but for writers especially. What I left with was two things: a keychain (hey, I loved my visit and wanted a memento, okay), and a renewed desire to write. Not necessarily to write my masterpiece, but to write and practice so that one day, the masterpiece might be written. I’d like to be in some museum someday, I think. And the way to get there is practice.

The Block and the Sludge and the Muse

The Block and the Sludge and the Muse

The block is coming.

The writer’s block.

I know what needs to be written, for the most part. The thing to do is to write through this less-inspired moment until I reach inspiration again. The only way to reach inspiration is not to rest and expect the mountain to come to Mohammed. Resting is all well and good and can help on the journey, but it won’t get you anywhere in and of itself. The only way to reach an inspired place again is to work through the sludge. To write anyway. To write and write and write, even if it’s trash, to write even though you hate every word, to write.

Like I’ve said before, the only way to do the thing is to do the thing. Even when you don’t want to do it. Even when you feel like trash and everything you’re writing is trash and why are you doing this and maybe you should wait until you’re blessed by the muse once more.

Except, the muse won’t work unless you do. While a benevolent deity, she won’t bless a lazy writer. She won’t bless the writer who isn’t already actively trying on his own. She sees the effort, she appreciates it, and then she nudges the writer along to keep the work going. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, but something has to be the first mover.

I am the first mover.

Excuse me, I’m going to go write.