I have a new-found respect for authors. Certainly I knew penning my first novel wouldn’t be easy, but, as evidenced by the embarrassingly low word count you can view on my sidebar, I’m finding it almost impossible to find time to write.
Certainly, my new schedule of waking up at 5 a.m. helps, but only if I go to bed at a decent hour and if the little boys sleep well, neither of which has been the case recently. If I choose to run, that also comes out of my writing time. I dropped back to running twice a week after the wine run which leaves me with three days of quiet writing time, or six hours. I’d like to say it’s guarded but, honestly, my three and five-year old don’t respect “me time” unless they’re the “me” involved. The opportunity to sit still and write quietly during any other point of my day is currently impossible.
But I’m trudging along, alternating between blogging and working on my book, which is actually a fiction title. I’ve only got four pages typed out an another couple hundred on the tips of my finger tips waiting to come forth. Not that I have the whole story plotted out, but when I sit the words do seem to flow.
I’ve never written fiction before. All my experience is in relatively short, non-fiction work, whether it be newspaper or magazine articles, or blog posts. Honestly, I believed I’d be writing a non-fiction type book this month, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get excited about writing it. I’ve read multiple good books put out by bloggers lately and have been feeling like, “Well, this is what I need to do. My memoir is the next step,” but couldn’t muster any enthusiasm. And its hard to start writing a book you’re only feeling ‘meh’ about.
Then I read Jen’s recommended “The Authentic Swing“and I started thinking in terms of fiction and I got, what I considered to be, a funny idea. I wanted to write about it, even thought I hadn’t attempted a fiction story since ninth grade english.
Now I’m reading Stephen King’s “On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft” and I feel convinced I can do it. Although I have not read many of King’s books, he’s undeniably a talented writer and I was curious to know his advice. What I read put my mind at ease. While I don’t expect a $400,000 paperback option on my first book, completing my story, a fairly decent one at that, seems possible, if not probable. Everything he advocates I was already doing, but his advice on cleaning up dialogue and description has been helpful as I navigate uncharted territory.
What’s been keeping me going on the few mornings I’ve been able to add something to my manuscript is the fact that he trashed ‘Carrie’, his first novel. He hated it and only after his wife dug it out of the trash and convinced him to keep going did he finish the story. I’m not completely happy with everything in my story. I have many exciting, hilarious and surprising moments I want to write about, but I must tell the story that gets to those moments first. And I don’t know those connecting bits when I sit down. But King himself goes through a similar process, allowing the story to write itself, and cleaning it up later in the second draft. Completing a post or a book isn’t all roses and sunshine; it’s frustrating and difficult, but you do it because you know the end result will be worth it, even when, at that aggravating moment you want to walk away or trash it all.
Writing is hard, and while I love having a hobby that I can pour 110 percent of myself into, being so emotionally invested in something that must come very low on the totem pole (after mothering, teaching, cleaning, cooking, etc) often leaves me frustrated. There’s simply not enough time for me to write. It’s the stage of life I’m in. Consequently, I’ve been running around most days with blog post ideas, character dialogue, Stephen King’s voice, etc. filling my head and no time to stop and dump it all out. I’m going to start talking in the third person and narrating my life as an alternate creative outlet.
I think this post by Rod Dreher accurately sums it up:
“The thing about being a writer is in most cases, you can never stop being a writer. I mean, you are always writing, even when you’re not writing. You can’t turn the damn thing off. … . It’s really true. I’m almost never fully there; I’m always thinking about how I would describe the thing I’m seeing and doing if I were to write about it, what the lessons would be, or thinking about something I wrote earlier in the day, or planned to write. I’ve learned over the years that I rarely know what I really think about something until I’ve written about it, even if I never commit a word to page.”
Yes. Exactly. While I’m changing a diaper, loading the dishwasher, driving the kids to music lessons, or out jogging, in my head, I’m writing. It takes great restraint to be fully present and not think about how this event would translate into a post, article or plot situation. My full-time vocation is not writing, but I certainly need time to write to keep my sanity. It may take me longer than one month to finish my book, but I’m enjoying the challenge thus far. Hopefully I don’t drive my family insane in the mean time. To all the other mothers out there who’ve completed their books, you are my heroes!
Kelly peered at the screen. One more click of the spell check button would be enough and then she’d feel safe hitting publish. Fulton’s screams could no longer be ignored. And then there was the looming threat of a milk-less breakfast. Where had her mind been at the store last night? She pushed the worry from her mind. Would her readers respond to this post? Was there some glaring grammar error she overlooked? She’d just have to forget about it and focus on starting her day in the real world.