Friday, June 15, 2007

Writing A Bit At A Time

So am reading for 15 minutes this morning out of my Anne Lamott book (current inspiration book) and just relaxing and letting my brain wander and I remembered something from ten years ago that was pivotal to the essay I'm writing (this essay will be developed into a book, so I really needed to remember these events).

I captured the idea with a quick 100-word section into the word document I've set up for this essay.

I am now sitting here grinning from ear to ear.

This is how it is done, folks. This is how Anne L writes, how every single writer I know gets the beef that is their writing.

And today there are donuts and I cleaned my office last night. So I'm feeling great.

Happy Friday. I'm off to work on a paper for my job and after work meeting a fellow writer buddy to talk shop

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

More About Writing

Loving this book by Boice. Between he and Anne Lamott, I actually wrote yesterday (and it wasn't bad) and I am ready to write more today.

More from Boice,

[There are] two common ways of motivating ourselves to write, waiting and then working under deadlines, [which] speak volumes about writing problems. The first way, waiting for inspiration and mood, symptomizes the most innocent understanding about finding motivation: the belief that good writing must be spontaneous. And so writers wait, passively, for the inspiration that would suddenly make them want to write. The most common result of passive waiting is barrenness. Tillie Olsen, author of Silences, provides an unusually memorable description of waiting and not writing:

“These are not natural silences—what Keats called agonie ennuyeuse (the tedious agony)—that necessary time for renewal, lying fallow, gestation, in the cycle of creation. The silences I speak of here are unnatural: the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being, but cannot. In the old, the obvious parallels: when the seed strikes stone; the soil will not sustain; the spring is false; the time is drought or blight or infestation; the frost comes premature."

Olsen also hints at origins. What begins as a natural silence often becomes an unnatural silence because passive waiting invites blocking. The longer we wait without readying and motivating ourselves, the greater the tendency to lose ideas, momentum, and confidence. And as unfruitful delays grow, so does dependence on tense, impatient, and unrealiable spurts of motivation that foster eventual barrenness and disappointment.

Doesn't that feel horribly familiar? The waiting and passive sitting as you think about the huge process of writing or think you have "to be ready" to write.

Boice's rule #2: Begin before feeling fully ready or inspired (because motivation comes most reliably in the wake of involvement).

I am so at rule #2.

Keep writing.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Writing calm.

I love how Robert Boice opens his book, How Writers Journey From Comfort and Fluency,

It was such an environment--a comfortable home, a fragrant garden, an evening walk with gay sisters, an encouraging word from a father who praised and peddled her manuscripts--that put into Jane Austen's novels a fresh air of peace, health, and goodwill, and that gives to her unhurried readers a quiet satisfaction hardly to be found in any other novels. She had learned that the day itself is blessing enough.

(Will and Ariel Durant, The Age of Napoleon)

And then Boice continues,
When we write with both calm and confidence at hand, we work in an ideal state of motivation, one marked by patience and enthusiasm much like Jane Austen's. Without this combination, writers too seldom find their work appealing and comforting; instead, they force writing with a hurried pace, a lagging confidence, and a lingering malaise. As a rule, poorly motivated writers remain ambivalent about writing and inconsistent at turning intentions into actions. The result is misery, silence, or both.

I find even this first paragraph a breath of fresh air. I hear endless stories about scrambling writers working their last nerve trying to finish a book, essay, story, or copy project. They talk about sweating blood and they delight in being miserable. I always wonder about those kind of reports, similar to what ran in the New York Observer a few weeks ago: My Book Deal Ruined My Life.

I read the piece, but was a bit disgusted at these authors' myopic egotistical blatherings.

I kept saying, "yes, but you are writing a book!" and wondered if they truly hated it that much.

I get a lot of comments on this blog that I choose not to publish and a few came in yesterday scoffing at my claims that people should take a few moments from each day to write rather than holing themselves up in a room for months at a time (similar to the writers featured in the Observer story).

I'm only chronicling my journey through writing. If you need to be more miserable than me, go for it. But don't try to convince me how to write a book, go write one.

More writing talk tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

A Writer Can Change?

So I'm reading Robert Boice's How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure and low and behold, a writer can change how they approach writing.

In the words of my British colleagues, brilliant.

Everything I've been spouting about on this blog in the past three months is certifiably true. You don't get an uninterrupted stretch of time to be a genius. Genius is snatching time from other things. You don't suddenly sit down and create a masterpiece; you work solidly on a masterpiece for an extended period of time (think J.R.R. Tolkien). You don't change the world by talking about the writing you intend to do; you only do anything substantial for the world by actually writing it.

So with that, I am off to write.

Keep Moving Forward.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Exciting Weekend

So, is Tony Soprano still alive? Is Paris Hilton still in jail, or secretly staying at her mansion under police supervision?

What a great way to sum up the weekend.

I don't care.

I drove out of state to visit my niece (and her mom and dad, my sister and her hubby). It was a great visit and my niece is growing up too fast. I made great time getting home last night, which was a wonderful improvement over Friday's solid traffic jam.

Chip Scanlon highlights his summer reads here from 2004. I'm still inspired.

I'm reading a lot of books right now. Probably one of my biggest lists this year so far. But this month I will have a ton of reading time, so I'm looking forward to making steady progress.

Writing update tomorrow!