Saturday, November 13, 2010

Facing my writing fears...

Last week on the Throwing up Words blog, Chris Crowe did a stint as guest blogger and wrote this post about writing as an act of faith and then there was a fabulous writing exercise about what keeps us from writing. Here is my response which, crazily enough, actually includes Chris Crowe as someone who helped me to face my writing fears. Crazy!

I used to believe that "life" kept me from writing. There just wasn't enough hours in the day to do everything I needed to do to survive and to write.

First there was college, where I had to write all those required papers and read all of those books. How was I supposed to write what I wanted and do well in school?

After a bachelor's degree came an LDS mission to Spain, a teacher's license and a master's degree, a husband, a teaching career, and three sweet little boys. Those things took up all my time and energy; how was I supposed to write?

I'd write a little. A poem or two here. A chapter or two of a novel there. I wanted to write. I yearned to write. It's what I needed to do in order to be truly whole. But I never really dedicated real time to the endeavor. It was something I wanted to do--when I had the time.

Then, in the summer of 2009, just a couple of months after TSH's deployment, Chris Crowe talked to us about his writing process. What I took away from his presentation was this: If you really, and I mean really, want to write, you will do whatever you have to to in order to write. You will make the time to write.

No excuses.

When Chris Crowe had a young family and was teaching high school full time (and maybe even after when he became a professor as well), he would get up at 4 o'clock in the morning to write!

4 o'clock in the morning!

In the months following that presentation, I thought about that. I started writing more. My TV was turned on a little less. In fact, now, my TV viewing time is so much shorter than my book-writing and book-reading time.

Last year, in November, Amy Jo and I decided to do NaNoWriMo. And it was hard. TSH was still gone and the time I had to write was in the evenings after my children had eaten dinner and done their homework and gone to bed.

But it was totally worth it.

What did I really learn from NaNo last year? I learned that I did have the time to do everything I needed to do and to spend some serious time writing.

So Chris Crowe and NaNoWriMo are to blame for what I've done: One NaNo novel partially completed (70,000 words and counting), another NaNo novel in the works right now, and the first draft of another novel completed in 6-7 months.

What was really holding me back, I discovered, wasn't not having enough time. Instead it was my idea of what I needed to be a successful writer.

I don't need a great computer and a nice desk; all I need is my netbook with an old version of Word and a placed to sit and write (preferably my bed or someplace quiet with yummy treats).

I don't need 8 hours a day to write. I need whatever time I can scrounge up.

I do need friends who write and family members who support me. And I have those.

How about you? How have you faced your fears and conquered your dragons this year?

Friday, November 12, 2010

NaNoWriMo Day 12: An Update

It was day 11.

I had 22, 673 words written.

That's 80+ pages.

And I hated my NaNo novel.

That was last night.

I was tired of writing it and I wanted to start all over.

On the 11th day of NaNoWriMo (someone should make up a 30 days of NaNoWriMo song).

Here's the problem: I was bored. I was writing probably what should have been a thrilling scene. Bones were being unearthed. Boys were being sneaked into bedrooms. It was incredible.


So this is what I was thinking about as I drove into work today: How do I salvage these 20,000+ words? (If you remember, driving in the car and taking a shower are the times when I get my inspiration.)

And *bing* I realized what I needed to do.

I need to take out an entire sub-plot of my novel. I'm still really fascinated by it, but it just isn't working. I'll put it in the back of my head for another time.

I'm changing it from part first-person narrative/part third-person limited to entirely first-person, although I'll have first-person coming from two different people.

I'm cutting out a character sooner than I'd planned (she was going to be kicked out of the school anyway; I just hastened her departure).

I'm changing a character who was a Ms. to a Mr.

And I'm doing it right in the middle of my 50,000 word goal. Crazy? Perhaps. But it was the only way I could see to get through the rest of November.

So, essentially, what I am doing is taking this square peg, see? And see this round hole over here? I'm JAMMING this square peg into that round hole! And I'm excited about what I'm writing again.

But I'm going to have a huge mess to clean up from all of this square-peg jamming at the end of the month.

So, how is your November going? If you're doing NaNoWriMo, tell me how you're managing so far. If you're not, I'd still like to know how you're doing. :)