Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Preconceptions of Writers

I've been following Kathy's 10 Minute Writer blog because once school starts, I will need some practical ways to get some writing done each day -- on my book, I pray.

She also posted this little freewrite on our preconceptions of writers. So here are a few of mine, which do repeat a few of hers:

I see a professional writer sitting at a beautiful cherry antique desk (not my war-scarred teacher's desk from the 1970's), laptop open while she drums away writing scene after scene, a view of a lake and lofty pines or an English garden in the picture window ahead of her. Cup of tea in a lovely flowered china cup at her right hand (unlike my 16 oz burgundy mug that was a Christmas present from my friend and the kids' math tutor -- refills not needed) at her elbow.

I don't write often at my desk because it's too cluttered for anything but blogging. I don't consider blogging REAL writing for some bizarre reason -- don't know why. I need a big clear space to write -- the pine school table that Keith built for us, or a table in a coffee shop, either in Julian or in San Diego and environs. I can't write well in our town's coffee shop; it's too cramped and too noisy and distracting. I like drafting pages in sepia ink or in pencil, and revise as I type it into the computer.

I also see professional writers as having nothing else to do but WRITE. The whole day is ahead of her, so she can leisurely sip her tea and plan the next chapter while I end up scurrying because writing time is so precious that I don't dare "waste" it. I try to plan out chapters or points while watering the garden or weeding/pruning. And I can't easily jot down ideas while doing those activities.

A professional writer also has QUIET and SOLITUDE in which to write -- and as a homeschooling mother of four growing kids, I rarely have either, much less both. I do need quiet, and I also need solitude, both of which are in short supply. I wrote some on Monday but it was while the boys were sorting recyclables in the patio, and I was constantly jumping up to referee quarrels and encourage work. I spent time taking away one child's Nintendo DS which he was playing instead of working. I stopped another boy from throwing recyclables rather than handing them to his brother. Etcetera. I had some solitude and moments of quiet, but also had consistent interruptions and constant noise while I tried to work. Introverts like me need QUIET and SOLITUDE and ORDER and PEACE in order to write.

Now in my current writing project I'm being stopped by the need to research, the blessing and bane of all nonfiction writers. I could research forever. And write never. So I have tried to divide my summer non-homeschooling days into writing in the mornings and research into the afternoons. We'll see how it works.

My life is very unlike my preconceptions of a professional writer. I'm no Jan Karon or Jane Austen. I feel more like a Virginia Woolf at times. But mostly I just feel like a homeschool mother who happens to write rather than a writer who happens to homeschool four children. I wonder what I can do to change my own perceptions?

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