Tag Archives | book writing

Fast Drafting Fiction (Or Any Other Kind of Writing)

When last I communicated with you, I told how I was taking a hiatus to finish my novel.  As my grandbabies would say, done! (This must be accompanied with both arms raised in the air.)  I finished the first draft on August 31st, and seeing as how my goal was to complete it by the end of August, I was happy.

It took me nearly a year to write it.  I wasn't writing steadily the entire time–I took whole months off here and there while I floundered.  By the standards of the class I'm currently taking, that is an eternity.

I am enrolled in a class called Book in a Month.  The first two weeks you write a draft and the next two weeks you revise.  Candace Havens, who teaches the class, urges her pupils to commit to writing 20 pages a day, gasp.  But, to my great relief, most of us in the class are not doing quite that many pages.  The main rule seems to be that you must write something (and post it on the Yahoo group page) or she may kick you out.  So, since I'm in the midst of getting ready to teach in France, I've committed to 10 pages a day.

This comes at an inconvenient time, I will admit.  I have 50,000 things to do before I leave and all. But I hope plan to be getting in my word count on the plane and the train from Paris to Beziers.  And I really wanted to take the class because I've long suspected I can write faster, and I was curious as to Candace's techniques.  To nobody's surprise, the techniques are simple: write.  

Make a commitment and write.

Ha!  Would that it were that simple.  Oh wait.  It is.

So, I'm a few days in and I'm already learning a lot, mostly that I need to unlearn a lot of stupid rules about writing that I carry around in my head.  Though my rules are likely different than yours,  I thought I would share them with you as instructive examples.  

Stupid Writing Rules

1.  I can't write fast.  Instead, I must sit and stare out the window at my giant Kiwi bush that is slowly taking over my whole backyard and wish that the kiwis would tell me what to write next.  Also, accessing the internet for research periodically is vital.  And, of course, going on Twitter to report my progress (or lack thereof) is also essential.

2. I need lots of uninterrupted time to write. To nail 10 or 20 pages a day, one must have hours of time in which to get words on the page, right? Wrong.  You can do it in small increments and many people do.  Earlier this week I wrote some in the morning, broke to talk to a friend and eat lunch, went back to writing for a bit, went to a Labor Day barbecue, wrote some more, had dinner and watched a little TV and came back to finish my final two pages.  Worked fine.

3. I can't write at night. I am a dedicated morning person, up most days between 5:30 and 6, and it is in these early hours that I like to get my writing in.  I'm at my best in the morning, as long as I have some coffee to write with.  Because of this, I'd started to believe that I couldn't write at night. Wrong!  See #2.

4. I can't write after I've had a glass of wine.  Not true.  The other night I enjoyed Happy Hour with my husband, ate a bite, watched my current favorite TV show, (which is, embarrassingly, Running Wild with Bear Grylls)and then went to my office to get two more pages in.

5. I can't finish one novel and go right to the next. Um, no.  Finished the one I've been laboring over for a year and opened a new file and started the next.

6. I have to have an outline!  I am a confirmed plotter.  Anybody who has worked with me knows that I advocate the benefits of a loose outline, just because it really helps to know where you're going.  But with this novel, I'm running blind.  I had a vague idea as I started and I'm must following where it leads me.  I'm not entirely convinced it will all hand together in the end, but I'm willing to try!  So, for the moment, I've joined the ranks of pantsers.  (Which means, for those who don't know, writers who fly by the seat of their pants with little planning.)

7.  Writing fast produces crap.  This is maybe the biggest surprise.  I'm quite pleased with what's on the page so far. In many ways, I'm coming to believe that writing fast is better for getting your true voice and style on the page.

So that's it, that's what I've learned thus far.  And I really urge you to consider some fast drafting for yourself.  I believe it bypasses the internal critic that slows us down and allows us to get a truer voice on the page.  

What do you think about writing fast? Yes or no?  Have you tried it?

PS.–Guess what?  I can get Typepad on the new Surface tablet I bought to take to France so I'll be blogging from there (she said, hopefully).  Last year I didn't know that I couldn't blog from my Ipad until I got there, sigh.  And by the way, I'm in love with the Surface 2.  It is a tool for work, as opposed to an expensive toy.  Just saying.  For someone who travels as much as I do, it will be a godsend.

6

Guest Post: Out of Your Book Mess and Into Story

I promised you a guest post from Jeffrey Davis, and here it is.  Jeffrey would be the first to admit that this post runs a bit long–but I want to tell you that it is worth reading every word! (I wrote a bit about Jeffrey, why I'm promoting his program and his upcoming webinar here.)  Enjoy reading!

Out of Your Book Mess and Into Story

by Jeffrey Davis

Sometimes I get flare calls.

An accomplished art critic calls and says she has a rough manuscript in the works and a book proposal her agent can’t sell. It involves renowned figures. Mounds of research. Book over 9 years brewing.

A business executive calls and says he has a book topic and concept and nearly a hundred blog articles circling around the topic. 2 years percolating.

An MFA grad and writing professor calls and says she has a nearly completed draft of her memoir. 3 years in the making.

Each one of these potential heroes is stuck in the middle of a creative forest.

Being stuck in the middle is frustrating and often lonely. You’ve gone beyond that first-love phase when you were struck by the initial inspiration. You’ve moved solidly into the “stand in love” phase. And how do you find your way out of this mess in a way that feels true and empowering – instead of just compromising?

No easy answers. But I will offer some ideas. We all need help, yours truly not excluded.

Draft to discover. Craft to design.

People get tripped up on drafting versus crafting. Writing is mostly rewriting. Still, drafting and crafting each are essential.

Draft to discover more of what you have to say, what your character has to show you, what that experience 12 years ago possibly means. Your own curiosity will drive you through the middle.

Drafting draws us deep.

To craft to design means you simultaneously learn the art of crafting experiences for readers.

You become a story architect who re-sequences drafted parts in ways to captivate readers. When you remember the captivating books that have cracked you open to new ways of imagining, feeling, and thinking, you can appreciate that those authors have absorbed craft knowledge in ways that let them design experiences for you.

Where’s the heart line?

At a certain point you have to ask, “What’s the heart of this book? What’s the heart of the Story?” You have to know your own heart connection. It’s the tender “why” that drives you to stand in love with this book through the difficult middle. It might be a personal story that you will never share with readers – although you might with a media interviewer when the book comes out.

But a Story, regardless of genre, also has its own heart line. One way out of the middle is to discover and trace the heart line.

A book’s “heart line” – versus the plot line – describes the movement from beginning to middle to end of what happens with the main character’s core yearning. Let’s break that down: Main character? Yearning?

Unless you’re truly exceptional at your craft, I’m only giving you memoirists and novelists one main character per book. The one who has the most at stake to lose. The one whose yearning we most clearly are drawn to care about.

Thought leaders, teachers, journalists, and other trade nonfiction authors, your hero is your targeted reader.

Yearning is what burns in the main character’s heart that he or she deeply desires to be fulfilled. In the film Thelma and Louise, naive and wide-eyed Thelma at first simply wants a taste of freedom away from her good ol’ boy husband for a weekend. In the course of the story, that want bursts into full-blown yearning to be free to be one’s true self.

Maybe your character yearns to feel at home in the world. Maybe he desires to fall madly in love again.

The reader of your trade nonfiction book on health might want to relieve her fatigue, but what she yearns for is vibrancy and vitality.

Your book’s core yearning is also your entryway into your readers’ hearts.

I’ve never been a woman married to a good ol’ boy, but I have felt stuck and compliant in relationships and have yearned for a taste of freedom – and my innate empathy goes out to almost any underdog. Thelma’s yearning becomes my yearning. Now I care and can be moved.

Move us.

Shape the opening

Many first-time authors don’t want to mess with the opening. They want to start with the Big Bang of drama. But where to go after that? These writers often avoid the delicate art of establishing and sustaining tension.

Once you discover the yearning, you can play with designing your book’s first part laden with tension. Call it the Broken World or Ordinary World. Call it the Prevailing Problem. It’s the story architect’s entryway that situates readers into this world of characters or concepts you’re asking them to inhabit.

The opening subtly introduces the tension among 1) the character’s situation (she’s married to a dolt), 3) her percolating yearning (freedom!), and 3) her resistance (where would she go? what would she do?).

When you discover your character’s yearning plus the external situation and internal resistance that conflicts with that yearning, then you have the makings for unfolding tension in your readers.

Do you only get one yearning? Yes. For now. If your protagonist or reader has three or four or five yearnings, then you haven’t yet done the work of discerning and choosing. After a certain point, the book’s story deserves your decisiveness.

I’m not talking formulas, you rebels (myself included) reading this. I’m talking core, fundamental Story forms that move your readers with a rewarding experience. That’s the craft you’re devoted to learn, hone, and make your own once you’ve drafted to discover these elements.

What is the Tornado Moment?

We human beings are wired to be curious about and to desire change and also to resist change. Isn’t that funny? And irritating?

In a captivating memoir or novel, something surprising happens that changes the protagonist’s course of action. In a captivating trade nonfiction book, a radical idea or a provocative premise comes along to challenge and change the reader’s course of thinking.

Think: A tornado comes along and drops Dorothy in Oz: “We’re not in Kansas anymore.”

Think: After your character loses her mother, her father, and most of the rest of her family, she makes the craziest decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Coast Trail by herself. (Cheryl Strayed and her memoir Wild.)

Sometimes, this moment in Story is quiet. A decision. Meeting a stranger who becomes an ally. But it arises out of the causal sequencing of the Opening and it launches the character or the reader into the book’s fertile section – the Middle. The Quest.

Then you can better decide what stays in your book and what doesn’t. You clear the middle of clutter.

When if at all is the yearning fulfilled?

Stop the never-ending story. Please.

Look at your drafts and maps. At what point does the character fulfill – or not – that yearning? Dorothy awakens back in Kansas and realizes “There’s no place like home.” Sentimental, maybe, but it moves us. Thelma has her pal gun the convertible gas pedal and launch off the Grand Canyon cliff to reach mythic freeze-frame freedom. Yearning fulfilled.

Cal Newport’s So Good They Can’t Ignore You has a final section that recounts several hero stories of people who have followed their skills to find their passionate work. Yearning fulfilled.

Not everyone in a memoir or novel gets what they want. In trade nonfiction, you’re expected to fulfill your readers’ yearnings. So, if your book has essential concepts or steps, regard them as potential steps toward readers fulfilling their yearning. Then imagine the afterword you can offer.

Know who the real hero is.

It takes vulnerability and courage to send that flare that says, “I need help finding my way out.”

If you’re sticking it out and unravelling the inevitable creative mess of the middle, if you’re willing to finesse your craft on behalf of your Story and the readers who need it, then in my book you are a hero of the highest caliber.

Ultimately, though, you and I know who the real heroes of your potentially captivating book are: your readers. They’re the ones who will love your book in ways you never fathomed and who will be changed or awakened in ways, grand and small.

Your book becomes their magic tool that aids them on their own life’s quest. And that is a wonder.

Jeffrey Davis is founder of the Your Captivating Book Mentorship Program and author of The Journey From the Center to the Page. He and his team help smart-working people shape their Story – in books, platforms, and intentional lives.

Have you ever gotten stuck in the middle of a project before?  How did you find your way out?

3

Book Writing Webinar

Guys, a quick heads up.  Jeffrey Davis is doing a webinar about writing a book on Wednesday and there are only 50 spots available. So if you're at all interested, get on it.

Here are the details:

THE BOOK DIAMOND: The 4 Essential Elements to Create a Book That Matters

A free webinar with Jeffrey Davis

Wednesday, March 26, 2014 Noon-1:30 pm EST

There's room for only 50 people.

Register here now.

Jeffrey is doing this webinar as an introduction to his upcoming Your Captivating Book Mentorship Program which I am promoting. You're going to be hearing more about this program from me in the upcoming weeks and I want to tell you why I've chosen to promote it.

1.  Most importantly, because Jeffrey is a writer, creative consultant, and knowledgable person about all aspects of writing and the publishing industry.  He holds the creative process in profound awe and communicates that reverence to everything he does.  Jeffrey is a man of passion and integrity, two of my highest values.

2. I'm rethinking and changing the way I do things.  It is not at all clear yet what that will look like (though rest assured this blog is not going anywhere), but for now I am not planning to offer any classes or programs until next fall at the earliest(I do still offer one-on-one services).  So when Jeffrey invited me to promote his program, I leapt at the chance.  It's a way to offer you guys group mentorship with a friend I deeply believe in.

Your best intro to Jeffrey is to grab a spot on this webinar.  Look for his guest post soon, but in the meantime, you might want to sign up to hear more about him.

And have a great weekend.

4

When A Character Morphs

Collage-morph-weird-6491132-hThe protagonist in my WIP just morphed.  When I started writing her, she was one way and now suddenly she's another.  (With the demands of launching my novel, I haven't had the time to actually put these changes into effect, but I've taken lots of notes.  And I think about it all the time.) It's a subtle but important change and it makes a big difference in how she views the world and reacts to the people around her. 

This also happened while I was writing Emma Jean.  In that novel, there's a character named Ava who's a young whippersnapper of a middle-schooler–sassy, smart, and slightly scarred.  She's one of my favorite characters in the book.  Yet she started out as a shy 5-year-old with little personality.  I well remember the night I went to my critique group and someone gently asked me if it was really necessary for the 5-year-old Ava to be in the story.  The next day, I boarded a plane to L.A., and as I did, the current Ava sprang to full, glorious life.  This version of her was the character who was meant to be–I just hadn't discovered her yet.

And so, too, with Jemima–while I know a lot about the externals of her life and what happened to her I don't yet know her inner landscape or her full backstory.  I also don't feel I've yet discovered her full voice.  So this recent change is welcome.  It tells me I'm getting closer to her, that I'm starting to know her better and it reassures me that the rest will come in due time.

But how do you actually deal with it when a character morphs like this?  Here are some suggestions:

–Don't panic.  Usually when it happens, it's a good thing.  Yes, there will be unexpected rewriting and changing things around.  But it's going to make your novel a richer, deeper book, because it's a sign that you understand your character at a new level.

–Take good notes.  Lots of them.  This is a good time for free writing to get a handle on the new shape of the character. 

–Write in "as if" form.   If you're in first draft mode, keep moving on.  Don't stop to rewrite everything that has changed because of the character morphing.  Instead, write as if the character changes have already been made.  This works most of the time, though once in awhile the changes are so profound that you have to go back.  Just don't get mired in rewriting!

–Unpack your story.  Once you've finished the first draft and it's time to make the character changes, you've got to make room for them.  The common metaphor for this is unpacking, emptying a space to put in new stuff.  Go paragraph by paragraph and pull them apart to insert new material.

–Take heart.  You may be dismayed by the character changes that appear to you, especially if they are big ones.  You may be tempted to ignore these ideas.  But don't–that pisses the muse off.  And besides, these are the very ideas that will make your novel the story you want it to be.

How have you dealt with a character morphing?  Please leave a comment.

**Speaking of characters, Emma Jean launches on February 12th, and I'm celebrating with a virtual release party, complete with prizes!  Find out more and sign up here.

Photo by shannonkringen, used under Creative Commons agreement.

12

Book Writing: The Tyranny of Chronology

 

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Are you a Write in Order Writer, or an Anything, Anytime Writer?

The Write in Order Writer insists on writing scenes in strict chronology.

The Anything, Anytime Writer writes whatever part of the novel she feels like without regard to order.

All my life, I've been a Write in Order Writer.  And this is not necessarily a good thing.  Because hewing to a strict chronology as you write can become tyrannical.  (For the record, that's a great word.)

As I've mentioned a few times before, I'm working on a new novel.  The path to get here has been fraught with false starts and stories that petered out, but finally I have a main character I love and a story that has legs.

But, here's the deal: every novel that you write comes out differently.  I've had to come to grips with this.  My last novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior (the one I'm currently shopping), came all in a glorious rush.  Emma Jean was unstoppable.  It was amazing and wonderful and thrilling.  I wrote the first draft from beginning to end in a couple of months.

Now comes this novel (it doesn't have a name yet).  I've been saying to myself and anyone who would listen this: it is coming slowly.  And it has been.  I've been saying that with gratitude that it is coming at all, but I also have realized that since the mind directs everything I need to change those statements.  My new one is: my novel is coming fast.

And one of the reasons that it is going to start coming faster is because I'm turning into an Anything, Anytime Writer.  In order to make forward progress and let this novel flow the way it wants to (those being the operative words here) I've had to let go of chronology. 

As we say in my family, cary, cary.  (Translation: scary, scary.)

Just yesterday I wrote the end of Chapter Three before I finished a scene in the middle.  That may not sound like much to those of Anything, Anytime Writers, but to me, a dedicated Write in Order Writer, it was huge.

Cary, cary.  And also liberating.  I hope I can do more of it. 

So let's look at advantages and disadvantages of each.

Advantages to working in chronology.

  • You can keep track of the flow of the story.
  • It is easier to consider cause and effect.
  • Character arcs are more easily seen.
  • You won't get confused

Disadvantages to working in chronology.

  • Writing whatever scene catches your fancy is freeing as all hell.
  • By allowing yourself to write what you want, you won't get blocked.
  • You may get a deeper understanding of character.
  • The writing may flow more easily.
  • You'll get the momentum rolling.

Okay, so the Anything, Anytime Writers win, at least in the above breakdown. I'm probably missing a few points, so feel free to fill them in. 

And, do tell: what about you? What kind of writer are you?  What do you feel are the advantages and disadvantages?

CREATE A SUCCESSFUL, INSPIRED WRITING LIFE: Try something different.  If you are a Write in Order Writer, try writing a scene out of chronology.  If you are a Anything, Anytime Writer, try writing a few scenes in order.  Which works best?

 

Photo by a2gemma.

8

Its Pretty Amazing: This Vision Board Stuff Works

So, you might be a bit like me (or a lot like me, since you are reading this blog). GotoImage

You might be like me in thinking that this vision board stuff is all well and good when it comes to applying it to a book that you're writing.  Because, book writing is a very visual thing, right?  And so finding pictures of your characters and settings is a great idea because it will help to visualize things for the writing.  And yeah, maybe you can see how having a visual reference could help you to not get stalled or, God forbid, blocked on your project.

But, vision boards for your life?

Um, maybe.  Except they take a lot of time.  I mean, you've got to leaf through magazines or do searches on Google and find just the right image.  And, honestly, who knows exactly what they want in life anyway?  So why bother?

I'll tell you why bother: because this shit works.  Excuse me for being profane.  But this shit works.  Let me tell you my little story.

This spring I took a class at church called the 4Ts Prosperity Program.  The 4 Ts class, created by the late Stretton Smith, is a spiritual approach to prosperity based on the 12-Step program.  Stretton encourages class members to set intentions for what they want in life and also make a vision board.  And so, I began the process.

And it took flippin' forever.  First I took an hour or so one Saturday afternoon to find images for what I wanted.  And then the pile of images sat on my desk for a few weeks, until I felt guilty enough had time to work on the vision board again.  And then when I started sorting through the images I realized I had way too many for one board.  So I ended up with three, count 'em, three vision boards: one for my spiritual goals, one for my temporal goals (if that's the correct usage of the word) and one for my travel goals.

Because, I love to travel.  And there are places I really, really want to go.  Like Hawaii, which takes up one-quarter of my travel vision board, and Africa, which takes up three-quarters of it.  I have wanted to go for Africa for years.  If you gave me one place I could choose to go above all else, it would be Africa.  And Hawaii would be second.

This travel vision board sits above my desk, with the board with the other worldly goals to its right side.  And when I'm gazing off into space (an important component of writing) my gaze often lands on the images of Africa and Hawaii.  And besides that, every morning I'd read my list of intentions, all 90 of them, with trips to Africa and Hawaii duly noted.

So, guess what happened?

First of all, the women at my church designed them a retreat next April on Maui, for an unbelievably cheap price which can be paid in payments.  So I signed up.  Kind of a miracle, no?  And then the real miracle happened.

A trip to Africa to write a book materialized.  For this November.  It is not final yet, we are working on the details, but it is looking pretty certain that it will happen.  I've been in a daze for days.  And when it does happen, I'll be blogging every night in this very space.  I'm so excited I could just pop.

So think good thoughts about the trip for me, would you?  And check out the website of the wonderful folks who are organizing the tour here.  You might even want to donate money to their cause, because they are building wells to provide fresh water in Ghana, some of which we'll be visiting and I'll be writing about.

Like I said, its still not all final yet.  But I've got great hope that it will happen.  So please hope and pray with me. 

* Photo by Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain

***Because this shit works, imagine what it can do for your book!  If you haven't yet, sign up for my list and download my free Ebook on  Jump Starting Your Book With A Vision Board.  The form is to the right of this very post.

7

7 Ways to Use Writing Prompts With Your Current Project

Writing prompts…love 'em or hate 'em.

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Some people swear by them, while others shudder at the thought of using a writing prompt in their work. Because, too often, using random writing prompts can lead you astray.  And let's face it, most prompts are a bit on the random side, aren't they?  Those books of prompts are great, but they have about as much as common with your novel in progress as flying to the moon does to a wedding dress.

Say you're stuck on your writing project, so you open one of your books of writing prompts, choose one and begin writing.  All well and good.  Except that you're just writing, not really writing about anything of much interest or use to you.

Now, I'm a great one for writing something, anything, on a regular basis.  And I often exhort people to do just that–particularly when they are stuck.  But writing mindlessly for any great length of time can be as frustrating as not writing.   Writing aimlessly is bad for your creative morale, because your heart and soul won't be in it.

The trick is to find a way to make your writing prompts relevant to your current project, so that they are enhancing your writing, not taking away from it.  When used in this manner, writing prompts can be wonderfully helpful in a couple of ways:

  • To generate actual writing
  • To get a flow of ideas going
  • To get yourself unstuck

And, remember, the best way to use prompts is as freely and loosely as possible.  Take your prompt, write it at the top of a sheet of paper, and set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes.  Then write.  And write and write and write, without stopping, until the timer goes off.

If you want to use writing prompts with your current project, here are some suggestions:

1. Take the last line of the previous scene or chapter and use it as a prompt.  Or take the first line.  Using a sentence from your work is a great way to drive deeper into the writing.  Because you are writing freely and loosely, your inner critic is silenced and you may be surprised what you come up with.

2. Put a location from your book into a sentence and use it as a prompt.  You can do this for the city or area your book is set in, or do it on a smaller scale, using a building such as your character's workplace or his home to write about.  This technique can help to uncover details you'll later use in description, or even ideas your character might have about her surroundings.

3. Put your character in a sentence.  Of course, this is sort of the whole point of writing a novel, but do this in a random way, having your character do either something unexpected or completely mundane and then write about it for 20 minutes.  You'll be amazed what you'll learn.

4. Use a line of dialogue from your project. 

5. Use keywords as prompts.   Quick, tell me three words that describe your writing project.  Now use those words as prompts–either one at a time or putting them into a sentence.

6. Use theme as a prompt.  Maybe you don't know what the theme of your book is–don't laugh, it takes many a draft to figure it out sometimes–or maybe you have a vague idea of it.  Make a sentence out of what your don't know or that vague idea and use it for a prompt.

7. Riff on the title.  Most works-in-progress have a title, even if its only a working title.  Use that for a prompt and see what comes up.

Those are some ways I've used prompts with my work-in-progress.  Any more suggestions?

8

Why You Need A Book

In the most recent edition of my newsletter, The Abundant Writer, I wrote a feature article called 7 Books_library_resources_267560_l Simple Steps to Write Your Book.  (For those of you who don't subscribe to the newsletter, there's a spiffy little box on the upper right-hand corner of this page.)  I based it on the new free report I'm working on.

But the thought occurred to me this morning that perhaps I should remind you why you need a book.  Because, in this day and age, everyone needs a book, whether it is an Ebook or good old-fashioned hard-cover book.  Why?  Let me tell you:

1. Instant credibility

2. Your book is your business card

3. Source of authority

4. Personal satisfaction

5. Share an important story with the world

6. Accomplish a lifetime goal

7.  Communicate with clients

8.  Boost income

If I had more time, I would go into each point in detail.  However, I am at the moment in Nashville, and constantly and happily getting distracted by friends and clients.  It's a tough life…However if there is enough interest, let me know and I'll expound on each of these points in future posts.  Y'all know how much I like to expound.

So what do you think?  Do you long to write a book?  Yearn to hear more about the benefits of writing a book?  Want to know how in the hell you write a book in the first place?  Do tell. Comments are open.

5

Holding My Breath

So, my novel is now being read by an agent.  I do not want to jinx this, so I'm not going to say anything more than that, and I know that y'all have lots of important things to worry about, but if it crosses your mind, say a teeny little prayer, or think a good thought for me, will you please?

7

I’m Writing, I’m Writing, I’m Writing

I'm back home in Portland, and its hot.  Like over 100 hot.  Every day.  I do not like this.  My office is upstairs and as we all know heat rises and hot damn it gets hot up there.  My computer does not like it either.  It tells me this by bluescreening and then fading quickly to black. 

So at the moment I'm working from the one air-conditioned room in the house, the family room, which is the wee-est bit problematic because other people have this crazy idea that they want to share this space with me.  No matter how much I snarl and bare my teeth at them they persist and before I know it, the TV is on and I'm absorbed in the Olympics.  Yes, water polo is too fascinating.

Despite these problems I have valiantly pressed forward and managed to complete the entire introduction for a ghostwriting project today.  And this situation has made me think back to the days before I was a professional writer.  I wanted to be one so badly, but I had two small children and little clue how to go about it.  I'd graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in journalism in the post-Watergate days when everyone wanted to be a newspaper reporter (now a quaint occupation), the main reason being that all reporters looked like Robert Redford, of course.

To work at a newspaper I would have had to go to a small town to get a job and since I was painfully shy (I'm not kidding, this is true) then, I just couldn't see myself doing this successfully.  So instead I did the logical thing for women who graduated and didn't know what to do–I got pregnant.  

My two children are lovely, amazing adults now, and I love them both beyond all reason.  But dear lord they were a distraction when they were little.  I was not one of those together super-mothers.  My house was always a mess and I was always frazzled and out of it, and I didn't even have a job outside the home.  Things were less organized and frantic back then than they are now so I could get away with this.  I look at all the things young mothers do now and I'm grateful I'm not trying to raise kids now.  I'd be shunned for ineptitude.

Through it all I desperately wanted to write and once in awhile would take little snippets of time to try, try being the operative word.  Finally the wee tidbits got a bit bigger and for whatever reason I landed a job writing a book.   To this day, I can't remember how.   I set up a desk in a corner of the bedroom and wrote the whole thing on a typewriter, which now barely even seems possible to me.  Who watched the children while I was doing this, I have no clue.  Hmmm, maybe that's when Lewis got that scar on his head?  Kidding, really!

What I do remember is sitting at the typewriter writing and being thrilled to my core.  Just sitting there, typing away, thinking, I'm writing, I'm writing, I'm writing.  It just didn't get any better than that, even though my "office" was one little corner of the bedroom and I had as little clue what I was doing writing a book as I did raising children.

All these years later, and here I am, sitting in the family room, with people wandering in and out, and still I'm writing.  The typewriter is now a laptop computer, but still sometimes I catch myself as I complete a project, thinking, I'm writing, I'm writing, I'm writing. 

And I'm thrilled to the core.

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