If you want to write, if you love to write, if writing is central to your well-being, at some point you need to have a serious think about needs vs. wants.
I’ve talked about this before, but just in case anyone is still unclear, writers don’t make a lot of money. OK, most writers don’t make a lot of money. I’m going to talk more about my big picture thinking on this in Part Two next week, but for now, I’m going to share with you my list of needs vs. wants.
(Oh, and by the way, I’m stipulating to oxygen, food, sleep, etc. – definite needs).
- my family
- time to spend with my family as a family.
- time to read
- time to write (note sometimes I need to write more than I need to read and sometimes vice versa)
- time to run (I guess this means running shoes are on the needs list too!)
(are you noticing a bit of a theme here? Time, time, time. Never enough of it…)
- a place to live where I feel at home
- a (paper) notebook and (good) pen
- my laptop
- clothes that keep me either warm or cool, depending on the season, and that are comfortable
- my bike (this is borderline. I technically don’t actually need it but, since we only have one car, it sure makes my life easier).
- forms of exercise other than running, e.g. riding and skiing. I love doing these things and they enrich me but if I had to choose just one thing I would stick with running, hence these are wants
- my current house in my current neighbourhood. I’m lucky in that I already have this want but, realistically, we are very lucky and could certainly survive (and thrive) in a smaller house in a less expensive neighbourhood
- the ability to buy a new laptop, a new bike, etc. I don’t actually want these things now because I am very attached to my 20-year-old mountain bike and my seven(?)-year-0ld laptop but I like knowing I can replace them if I need to
- extra clothes chosen for colour, prettiness, etc. beyond those needed for basic comfort
- one take-out dinner each week from our favourite Greek place, also a lunch out every couple of weeks
- the continued ability to spend a huge chunk of our summer at the cottage
I’m sure there are more in each category and some kind of blur the lines – I think there’s kind of a “needy want” category and maybe that’s where my riding and my bike fit in.
Interestingly, most of the things on my “needs” list are free. Money-wise anyway. They may take a lot of time and effort but they don’t cost much. It’s the “wants” stuff that costs more in my particular situation.
How about you? What are your needs and wants lists? What do they look like? Don’t fudge or put things where you think they “should” go. Be realistic. What do you really need to be happy? I’ll talk about why I think this is an important exercise in next week’s post…Filed under From Tudor, Inspiration, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path, Writing as Career | Comment (0)
Tudor: As I hinted in an earlier post, the time has come for a change. An ending of sorts – or at least a suspension – and a couple of new beginnings.
Due to exciting (and time-consuming) developments in Peggy’s life and because I’ve finally pulled myself out of complacency long enough to kickstart my own website (something I’ve been meaning to do for ages), this will be the last post on Two Writers Talking for the foreseeable future.
What can I say about TWT? I can’t say it was everything or nothing I expected it to be, because the truth is, I didn’t have any expectations. If anything can be said to have grown organically, this blog did. Peggy and I decided to move our long e-mail conversations to a more public forum and Two Writers Talking was born.
And kept going. Pretty steadily. For quite a while. An achievement if I dare say so myself.
The one thing I can say for sure is that during the time of TWT I have been struck anew by the generosity of this writing community that surrounds us. Peggy, of course, was generous to agree to write a blog with me. To share her expertise and opinions (and to organize the start-up – that especially!).
A couple of regular commenters have also displayed the generosity I’ve come to love in the writing world. Lee Ann, when I suggested I might pitch a workshop idea to the Ottawa Catholic School Board was instantly supportive. Recently, when I was able to tell her the course was a go, she was happier for me than my own mother (really!).
And Lynn. Oh my goodness. Lynn. I have haunted Lynn’s life these last few weeks. She is more responsible for my new site being up and ready and going and beautiful than I am. Way more responsible. She gave me recommendations at every step along the way, coached me in the few small things I did and single-handedly designed the whole thing. She even stepped in and wrote some inspired bits of content which started out as placeholders but which I’m not letting go of. All this and she still left a detailed and thoughtful comment on last week’s post. I have no idea where she gets the time…
My friend (and talented editor) Gillian, refused payment for line editing my entire manuscript (and it was a great line edit) and I’ve received incredible feedback on my manuscripts; some paid for, some not, but all worth considerably more than what I had to shell out to receive it.
In general I find those involved in writing and the writing world, give much more than could ever be expected. We may be under-paid, we mostly are under-paid, but we certainly don’t underperform.
I’d like to thank everyone who’s inspired me and made me feel supported and included in this great world of writing and I hope to see you all regularly over at tudorrobins.ca.
Peggy: Tudor’s right. It takes a village to raise a writer, and we’ve both been fortunate to be citizens of a very generous, literate village.
As much as we’d like to think that our Writer Self is strong enough to sit alone at our desk to answer our calling – often in the absence of pay, publication, or even mildly interested readers – some days it proves too daunting a challenge. That’s when it helps to get an inspiration infusion from the people around us.
Encouragement comes in different forms. Often all that’s needed is a friend asking us what we’re working on now … and being interested enough to ask a few questions, or say they’d like to read our story when we’re ready.
Sometimes we’re helped by the chance to put our writing to use in a different capacity, one that’s of benefit to others and provides us with some immediate, tangible satisfaction. Just recently, for example, I have been helping to write and edit content for a new, soon-to-launch community website that’s going to be enjoyed by many local residents and give me a change from my usual navel-gaving memoir work. It’s been fun to get back into community reporting and get the immediate feedback I remember from my days at the North Shore News.
I learned from my year at the SFU Writer’s Studio the immense energy you get from being surrounded by people who are enthusiastically committed to their writing life. As any Star Trek conventioneer can tell you, there is something pretty exciting about gathering with others who share your passion for a hobby or vocation that isn’t terribly mainstream!
But sometimes, I think, we can be equally inspired by putting ourselves in a new environment that has little to do with our writing life. After several years of immersing myself in communal and individual writing activities – workshops, writing projects, literary non-profits – I am looking forward to exercising a different part of my brain altogether.
I’ll be taking an eight-month, full-time Medical Assistant course that will plunge me into a new career entirely. I won’t ever leave my writing life behind (in fact, one reason I’m pursuing this program is for the eventual career flexibility that will allow me to incorporate my literary life around what will likely translate into casual or part-time hospital shifts).
But I do look forward to getting away from my desk and learning new skills in a new environment. And I am confident that the energy I get from that will end up fuelling my writing as well. I’m already salivating at the thought of the new, multi-syllabic words I’ll have at my disposal after I finish my medical terminology course! Not to mention the wide range of people and situations I’ll meet over the year ahead – all part of an interesting new landscape that will no doubt have me thinking up plots on my lunchbreak!
Along with my new studies, I’ll be prez of the North Vancouver’s Young Writers’ Club and the Lynn Valley Literary Society, running an adult writing group and blogging for LynnValleyLife when it launches in the fall. So Tudor and I will both be pretty busy, and we’ve reluctantly had to let go of Two Writers Talking for the foreseeable future. But we’re leaving it live so visiting writers, readers and teachers can look over some of the past posts and workshop exercises for what we hope are some timeless tips!
I have loved working with Tudor over the past few years (an inspiring, hard-working writer if ever there was one), and look forward to seeing where her new ventures take her. This isn’t a goodbye from us, just an evolution to the next stage of our lives and the adventures that beckon down the road.
Both of us wish you many adventures of your own, literary and otherwise, in the months ahead. And many thanks for being our ‘village’ – we hope you’ve enjoyed your citizenship here at Two Writers Talking.Filed under From Peggy and Tudor, Inspiration, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path | Comments (2)
As Tudor has already hinted, we are both planning some upcoming life changes that we’ll talk more about on Saturday.
For me, the year ahead will require a re-focussing of time and commitment; I’ll need to stop dancing from one writing project to the next and learn to commit to just one or two.
Knowing that I’ll have to put some of my writing on the back burner for the next while has me a bit anxious, but at the same time it’s helped me sort out what I really do most want to accomplish (and even how I define ‘accomplishment’).
Over the next months, I won’t be looking for fame and riches, but have decided the one daily writing practice to which I do want to adhere is writing a “One good thing” entry.
Let me explain. My son Mark brought me back a lovely Italian leather journal from a recent school trip – so lovely that of course I felt my writing couldn’t possibly live up to its aesthetic standard! So it sat there, untouched, but I felt guilty every time Mark asked me, hopefully, if I had started using it yet.
So I took some colourful, fine felt pens out of my desk drawer and sat down with the journal. I stared at the thick, creamy pages, took a breath and wrote “One good thing today is that I was charmed by the companionship of two old men I saw having coffee together in Tim Hortons.”
That started me on a daily practice of recording one good happening from the day; a quiet moment, a summertime festival, a joke from one of the kids.
Those of you who write memoir pieces know the result is sometimes prose that you’d be leery to share with any of your family members – especially your children! It’s a nice change to write a journal that I’d be happy to leave out on the coffee table, and in fact I’ve written in the front that I’d like it to be given to Mark when I eventually kick the bucket. I hope it gives him a glimpse back at the many happy memories he had a part in.
Of course, others might call this a ‘gratitude journal’, and the positive effects of keeping one are well-discussed. How easy it can be to focus on the negative – writing my ‘one good thing’ book will, I hope, help re-dress the balance.
It will also be interesting to see how expansive my interpretation of the word ‘good’ will prove to be over the year ahead. As was so well described in CBC’s Ideas in the Afternoon program today (Say No To Happiness by producer Frank Faulk), a richly-led, satisfying life isn’t one in which ‘happiness’ is the prime goal, but perhaps one in which one’s (inevitable) suffering is given meaning.
So over the months to come, I may gain the wisdom to see that the ‘one good thing’ in my day was actually the thing I would have most liked to avoid! But right now, I’m enjoying recording the perfect bloom on the delphinium, the glass of wine with Mom, and the fireworks over English Bay.
Whatever your plans for the year ahead, I hope they will include many contemplative, creative pauses of your own.
Filed under From Peggy, Inspiration, Memoir, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path | Comment (1)
“I’ve decided to become a novelist.”
Cue several mental reactions from me.
(1) “Yes, and I’ve decided to perform an appendectomy.”
(2) “Oh, that was my mistake – I didn’t ‘decide’ to become a novelist.”
(3) “Shut up. No, really SHUT UP.”
Followed by actual reaction which is produce a forced smile and stay very, very quiet until I have counted to 10.
You’d be surprised how often people say something along these lines. Or maybe not. Maybe you’ve heard it too. Maybe you too have sought some sort of relevant education and / or training and have put in long hours at your keyboard / notebook trialing and erroring. Maybe you have sought out other writers’ advice and have read endless books in your genre. Maybe you’ve ripped apart your manuscript and re-written all 60,000 words of it, then ripped it apart again. Maybe you’ve researched the market, learned about query letters and bios and cover letters and partials and fulls and the synopsis; don’t forget the dreaded synopsis. Maybe you’ve jumped through seventeen hoops to meet all the submission guidelines of each and every possible agent and / or editor – “Page numbers in the top left hand”, “Page numbers in the top right hand”, “Indent all paragraphs”, “Don’t indent paragraphs”, “Write a 250-word synopsis”, “Write a 15-page single-spaced synopsis”, “Compile a target market evaluation of the genre you’re writing for and assess how your work will fit into it using comparisons to three other books currently on the market” (yes, I did that one). Maybe you’ve spent hundreds (maybe thousands but I don’t want to think about it) of dollars on ink cartridges and paper and envelopes and manuscript boxes and postage – don’t forget postage – to submit your work all over the great, wide, English-speaking world.
Maybe you’ve done all that, and you still aren’t published, and somebody has walked up to you and said they’re unfulfilled with their career and it’s not all that and they need a change and “I’ve decided to become a novelist.”
And, if all that is true, you’ll know how I feel when I hear it.
So, please don’t say it. Just please, not that. You can try “I’ve decided to work on my writing,” and you can even try “Do you have any suggestions?” To which I will smile – genuinely this time – and say, “Yes, start writing. Put pen to paper. Then come back and talk to me after your first 10,000 words.”Filed under From Tudor, On Life, The Publishing Industry, The Writer's Path, Uncategorized, Writing as Career | Comment (0)
This post is a bit of a round-up of mid-summer news; stuff you might want to know.
(1) I still don’t think I’ve managed to process this one completely. Which is kind of nice because every now and then I take it out of the compartment in my brain where it lives and I have a fresh look at it and get newly excited. I found out late last week I was a finalist in the Writers’ Union of Canada’s 15th Annual Writing For Children Competition. This news, in and of itself, is very gratifying and exciting. For some reason I keep getting hung up on the fact I made the shortlist from 680 entries to 118. That alone seems incredible. I still haven’t really zeroed in on the getting to the final 12 bit. What I am extremely pumped about (extremely!) is this part, “the Union will submit the winning story, together with the stories of eleven finalists, to three Canadian publishers of children’s literature for their consideration.” Oh. My. Goodness. What an opportunity. After years and years spent slogging it out on my own, doing the submission thing all by myself, this just seems like heaven to me. Wow.
(2) I’m teaching a workshop! Probably. And maybe even two. It’s all based on enrollment (as in there has to be enough) but the Ottawa Catholic School Board has agreed to my proposal of holding a workshop to help writers enter writing contests and are adding it as a new course in their Fall continuing education catalogue. It’s going to be a two-hour workshop and, I think, pretty affordable at $21.00. Once the course is open for registration I’ll post the details and I encourage anyone interested to sign up, as well as passing the info onto others who might also be interested. I’m pretty pumped on the benefits of entering writing contests these days (see item #1) so can’t wait to share what I’ve learned with others.
(3) Changes are looming for Two Writers Talking. Peggy and I will be giving you more information so stay tuned for that. Can’t say more right now, but will very soon.
In the meantime hope you’re all enjoying your summer!Filed under From Tudor, On Life, The Writer's Path | Comments (3)
I enjoyed Tudor’s Saturday post on how people think. And I fully agree that fortune favours the prepared – that those ‘spontaneous’ flashes of inspiration generally come to people who have created fertile mental soil through ongoing commitment to their craft.
As much as I could relate to the experience of being an ‘idea-popper’, I could also relate to Tudor’s comment that our societies also need plenty of people to live a more linear mental life, so as to keep the world running smoothly.
What I find hard is having a foot in both worlds. Compared to a (stereotypical) creative artist, I’m pretty boring. But compared to a (stereotypical) suburban volunteer/housewife/freelancer, I’m pretty creative. Depending on the season, my surroundings, and my support group, I lean more or less in one direction or the other ; my artsy side and my linear side compete for dominance. If I lean too far in either direction, I get frustrated.
I am learning that, for me, letting go of ‘linear’ considerations like bill-paying and career glory is maybe the better choice when it comes to my writing life. Because if I make those my goals, my writing time is going to be market-driven and ultimately not the creative outlet I want it to be.
So, having bolstered my creative half by completing the SFU Writer’s Studio last year, this September will see me trucking off to Capilano University to reinforce my linear side – the side I’ll be counting on to do aforesaid bill-paying. I’ll be taking Cap’s Medical Assistant program, and looking forward to exercising a different part of my brain altogether.
Having been self-employed for so long, it is simultaneously thrilling and daunting to contemplate marching to someone else’s drum. But I’m thinking that this new left-brain endeavour will, in its own way, create the structure and support that will free up my right brain writer-self to play as it sees fit – for personal, not just professional, reasons.
That’s the plan, anyway. We all have our version of the struggle to find life/work balance. What’s yours?Filed under From Peggy, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path, Uncategorized | Comment (0)
Sadly, I am here to tell you there is no such thing. Not in the writing world, anyway. There is not even such thing as a reasonable-amount-of-money-for-the-actual-amount-of-work-you-put-in. No, I’m afraid the closest you’re going to get is to receive a not-insulting-sum-of-money-that-is-fair-given-market-conditions-and-that-gets-paid-to-you-on-time. That, my friend, in the freelance writing world, is pure gold. That’s also why your parents wanted you to go to med school or law school – or pretty much anything but j-school…
Speaking of j-school - I graduated in 1996 and freelancers were getting paid more then than they are now. So did I pick a winner or what?
This little lesson on writing and money comes courtesy of one of the spam comments the blog received this past week (spam central we were, around here). Here’s the comment:
We need internet writers desperately. After checking out your website, we want you on our staff. We pay out $35-$50 hourly. Our top writers are pulling in over $90K a YEAR, writing part-time. Please stop by and see us.
I am here to tell you this is hogwash! Pure, 100 per cent, complete and utter hogwash (I would use a stronger animal reference here but I’m making an effort to clean up my language). This statement is simply not true.
There are lots of sites like this out there telling you they need you, and you can make lots of money in your spare time, and you just have to register with them (oh, and pay a small fee) and the work will roll in, pour in, deluge in and you’ll be able to pick and choose your assignments and then lean back in your chair and eat pitted cherries all day while you peck out your stories and the cheques also roll, pour and deluge in.
Really? You really think this is going to happen? I’m not asking if you wish this would happen or if it seems only fair and right that this would happen but I’m asking if, deep in the recesses of your heart and mind you believe this to be true. If the answer is still yes then I’m here to tell you you’re wrong.
I could go into lots of details and give you all the good reasons and logic as to why things that seem too good to be true really are and also remind you there is no such thing as a free lunch (unless your mother makes it for you and then you still have to listen to a diatribe on your good-for-nothing cousin and the mistakes he’s making with his good-for-nothing life and, pretty soon, you wish you had just paid $5.99 for the deli special). Anyway, I could do all that but one of my most favourite bloggers of all times – the wise and mysterious INTERN – has already done a fantastic and funny job of it here so I invite you to read it for yourself.
Of course, in the interests of maintaining a fair-minded and egalitarian blog, I definitely invite you to write in if you can prove me wrong. If you really have pulled in over $90K a year, writing part-time, by all means let me know and I will happily bathe in hogwash.Filed under Contests, Markets & Events, From Tudor, On Life, The Publishing Industry, The Writer's Path, Writing as Career | Comment (0)
There is no answer. No right answer anyway.
I think lots of people are out and about Googling away and reading blogs and, a lot of the time, they’re looking for an answer. The answer. The right way to do something.
While the internet and all the experts it contains can give you lots of answers – it cannot offer you THE answer that’s right for you - at least not with regards to things like writing and philosophy and generally running your life (and not parenting; especially not parenting). I totally give you that the internet may be able to give you the definitive answer about how to get a red wine stain out of your white tablecloth – or then again, maybe not because some people swear by a name brand you buy in a store while others recommend you mix two parts baking soda with some vinegar and add eye of newt and the spit of an ailing bullfrog.
At any rate, in my writing world I’m often conscious of the “rules”, the “rights and wrongs”, the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts”. Here are some examples:
Example A: Resume clients will often tell me they’ve heard a resume should only EVER (on pain of death) be one page. Or, someone else has been told, also on pain of death, it can only ever be two pages. Or, someone has heard keeping it short is so old school and you should always make it at least five pages just to show you’re non-conformist. So what’s the answer? The answer – or at least how I work – is I write the resume as best I can and see how long it is. It almost always ends up being two or three pages which, I believe, is quite reasonable. However, I always tell my clients, if the job posting asks for a one-page resume, you’d better cut your resume down to one page and if it wants 10, you’d better do some padding. There is no one right answer. I tell my clients the only people they should be suspicious of are those who tell them there is only one answer.
Example B: In dealings I had recently with another writer, I was told I “should” have an online portfolio. Now, since I already know I should be making my yogourt from scratch and I should iron my t-shirts and I should drink less Diet Coke, the idea of having to find time to create an online portfolio was kind of freaking me out. And then I thought harder about it and realized because this particular writer is very much an online creature with social media being the main focus of their work, yes, certainly that writer definitely should have an online portfolio. Me? I’m not so sure. I’m certainly not convinced enough to take the time needed from revising my manuscript to build said portfolio. Maybe when my kids are in university and I am a successfully published author and, in theory, I have more time. But by then I probably won’t need to promote myself anyway right?
Example C: Writing in general. I break rules all the time. I just did with my “writing in general” sentence. That’s not a sentence is it? Word definitely doesn’t like me when I use sentence fragments and spell things with Canadian spelling and write long, fun, rambly run-on sentences. The rules! The rules! screams Word in red and green, with its little lines of code all wrung up from the confusion and tangle of dealing with rulebreakers like me. But if we all followed the rules exactly, all of our writing would sound quite, well, similar. Some would probably be better for it and some much worse and - I bet you anything - no two people would agree on which was better and which worse. Because reading, like writing is subjective.
Now, don’t get me wrong, even though I love my sons and think they are brilliant writers, when they write Mother’s Day cards telling me they love their mother because “elle don mwah des clashions” (aka “elle donne moi des collations”, aka “she gives me snacks”), I do realize they still need to learn a few writing rules. I believe firmly in learning the basics, walking before you run, learning the rules before you break them (Mary Kole has a great post on this).
I guess what I’m trying to say is, yes, there are rules which have developed for good reasons. But this world – the writing world, the world of relationships, the world of etiquette and so on – this big world we live in is full of shades of grey so I think you should seek out resources, gather advice, weigh it seriously and then follow your heart. Because maybe the critique partner who tells you she dislikes your run-on sentences just simply doesn’t understand them. Maybe her critique partner is always warning her about her fragments.
I’m not saying ignore advice – especially not if the same advice comes from many different corners – but I am saying, in the end, it’s up to you how you write.
Then again, having said that, it’s up to other people whether you get published but that’s another discussion for another day…Filed under From Tudor, Inspiration, Language & Usage, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path, Tips on technique | Comment (0)
We tend to focus on the big achievements in life – the prize-winning novel, the gorgeous new baby, the move to head office. But while those are exciting, heady ‘wins,’ there is a special magic in the small, unheralded first step one takes on the path towards these goals.
That first step is your declaration to yourself, and to the universe, that there’s something you want and that you’re committed to making it happen. It is a time of vulnerability; a time when we can fear ridicule or failure. But by bravely opening ourselves to those possibilities, and stepping out boldly, we seem to attract the help of the cosmos.
“Follow your bliss, and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you never expected to find them,” said mythologist Joseph Campbell, and I think he was right. Take a few small steps in the right direction, and you never know what will happen next.
A writer teaching at the SFU Writer’s Studio credits the successful publication of her novels to a hand-assembled, low-budget chapbook she put out for a very local audience. It happened to catch someone’s eye in the publishing business, and the rest is history.
I’ve recently met a wonderfully interesting woman halfway across the world thanks to a chance comment I made on a writing forum – you never know who will read a random posting. I know another writer who made great connections by volunteering to give a reading at a graduation event.
I’m not suggesting that bevvies of New York literary agents are lurking in our midst, ready to leap up and discover us the moment we open our mouths or enter a local writing contest. But when we take a small step in the direction of our dreams, the result is often an encounter or a response that gives us new ideas, fresh energy or an added dimension to our project. All sorts of helping hands, both ethereal and earth-bound, line the paths of people who are being true to their passion.
You may never get your New York agent. But chances are you’ll be living the life you want, wherever the journey takes you. Just think. What small step could your Writer Self take today?
Filed under From Peggy, Inspiration, On Life, The Writer's Path | Comment (0)
Nestled in the middle of the mundane you will sometimes find some magic and this is exactly what happened to me as I was doing my mandatory, annual, half-hearted clean up of our filing cabinet.
Taxes; nothing much more mundane than those. Every year I have to tally up all my living expenses to be able to claim “workspace in the home” deductions and so every year I rifle through Bell and Hydro and Water bills and add them up and then shred the ones from three or four years previous so that (in theory) our filing cabinet will not overflow.
This year I got a little more adventurous and decided my “nanny” file could go since she worked for me for nine months in 2003 and I have no plans to ever hire another one. Then I thought maybe the brochures we collected for our honeymoon of places we ended up deciding not to go could possibly also be recycled. And so on. I got on a bit of a roll and came up against a file labelled “Personal” in my handwriting. Hmmm…
A quick glance revealed university transcripts, photocopies of my results in the National Capital 10K as published in the Ottawa Citizen, a picture of me and six friends with all our moms, etc. What was also there, though, was writing. Lots of bits and pieces of unfinished writing. Three paragraphs here, 300 words there, printed off on the back of letterhead from a job I held 14 years ago. A poem scribbled in red ink on a scrap envelope. And, nearly filling an Algonquin College 160-page spiral-bound notebook in my own neater-when-I-was-younger printing, a story. A long story. I still don’t know how complete it is as I haven’t had time to read it.
Bizarrely, although many of the short bits and pieces jog my memory, I can’t remember writing this long story. Oh, and wait, looking through it now I’ve found a loose piece of paper with an outline written on it. An outline. So strange.
So, it appears I have some sort of novel on my hands. Useable? I have no idea. To be honest, I’m afraid to get into it. At the moment I’m teetering on the edge of finishing the first draft of my third YA novel and I really want to press forward with that. I’m also trying to stay on course with my year of the contest. I also have life to consider – you know, feeding, clothing and nurturing my family. I’m afraid if I read this now it will be one too many things to think about – afraid it will take over the small part of my brain reserved for running all the rest of the stuff I have to do and I’ll stop getting anything done at all.
I am using the small bits of writing, though. I already adapted one for a contest and there are several more that I can probably work on. The infuriating thing, though, is that most of them just introduce an interesting idea and then fade away to – what? Who knows. Probably I had to go call a client or write up some marketing materials and never came back to my first thought. Just easier to start a new one next time I had some creative writing time. Now it’s up to my older (and busier) self to do the hard slog of pulling everything together into a coherent story.
Here’s an example of one of the short beginnings:
Lucy had always been great at giving advice but her skills in this area had tailed off considerably since she had fallen in love. Where her recommendations used to come short, sharp and vehement, she now tended towards a sort of optimistic sympathy. She had developed a theme of “I’m sorry about it but everything will get better.” She was distracted by love; made softer, gentler, dreamier by it.
She was aware of it too, and had told Avril, “I feel less quick; not as sharp, less smart I guess, but infinitely wiser.” Love had made her into a rational creature; one who moved through the day with a buffer around her. Her primary emotions were saved for Jeremy while secondary ones filtered out to those around her.
It wasn’t that Avril wished her friend hadn’t achieved this state – after all, it was one she aspired to herself – it was just that she wished they could have arrived there together.
I read this and think who on earth are Lucy and Jeremy and what was going to happen to Avril? I wish I knew. If anyone out there thinks they know, by all means tell me!Filed under From Tudor, Inspiration, On Life, Organizing our Writing Lives, The Writer's Path | Comment (1)