Saturday, August 2, 2008

Finally! Some Writing Accomplished!

I think I've discovered the secret to writing, at least for me: I have to leave my home. I was discussing this fact with Dr. Burns while he was adjusting me yesterday. I mentioned how I never seem to get any writing done at home, and he agreed, saying that on the weekends he always wanted to relax at home, but for his wife, home was a place with a mile-long "To Do List" that didn't allow much relaxation.

All summer I've been trying to write. But each day I've had my little (and not so little) "To Do List" to finish before I allow myself to settle down to write, and somehow the writing time never happened. I get up in the morning and dress in exercise clothes, eat breakfast while checking e-mail, have Morning Prayers and Devotions which takes at least 45 minutes, water the garden (another 45 minutes), exercise on the stationary bike, shower and dress for real, put on laundry, do a little gardening, and once I add in a trip to the library or guitar or swim lessons, somehow the day is mostly gone. I've only written in this blog or in my journal but not on my writing project. It's been frustrating.

The only times I've really accomplished something on my writing project is at J's guitar lessons. Father Acker sets up a little cardtable for me, and B sits next to me, drawing on a spare piece of paper from my yellow legal pad. And I pull out my manuscript and edit a little or write a little. It's only thirty minutes a week, but I do get a little bit done. I also managed to write several handwritten pages during Pine Valley Day in our arts council booth. So what's the common denominator in writing for me? I have to leave the house in order to write.

Yesterday after getting my neck popped back into alignment, I drove to my favorite Starbucks, the one on La Mesa Blvd. just west of the trolley tracks. My friend from church, Posie, works there, and although the Starbucks is situated in a strip mall, it's one of the cosiest Starbucks I've ever been in. Overstuffed chairs on deep red area rugs make up one side of the seating area, while small tables are scattered over the dark wood floors on the other. A long padded bench reaches across the side wall with tables and chairs pulled up to it, and under the bench are power plugs for my dying laptop. Two small square tables were already pulled together against the middle of the padded bench, and there I set up my writing station: laptop in the middle, manuscript folder, reference books, and iced tea on my right, and my lunch, a yogurt parfait with fresh peaches, raspberries, and granola on my left, along with my ESV Bible. On the opposite deep red wall is painted phrases in a deep cream color that encourage relaxation and creativity.

In those three hours, I got quite a bit accomplished. My five-page chapter exploded into eleven pages, some of which I pasted from an existing document I wrote over a year ago; I liked the writing well enough but the structure of the piece bugged me. Certain paragraphs of this earlier writing worked perfectly in my new chapter, so I lifted them into the right places. Yes, it's still rough and needs some expanding in quite a few spots to make it truly "sing," but I walked out of Starbucks feeling exhausted but also tingling with the thrill of accomplishing some writing, perhaps even some GOOD writing, at long last this summer.

I am simply going to have to get out of the house for an hour or so each day, either to the library or to PV Java, because if I stay home, I'll start dusting or cleaning out my closet or some other such thing in order to avoid writing. Now, I'm sure that most people think that writers must LOVE writing, right? I dread it. I mean, not blogging or journal writing (that kind of writing is fun and therapeutic), but writing my book. The responsibility hangs over my shoulders like dead weight. I dread writing until I get a few good sentences onto the page, and then I'm in my element and an hour or two slips away before I realize it, until my aching neck alerts me that I need to get up, stretch, even walk around a bit before settling in to write again. Writing is HARD WORK -- it's both physically and emotionally draining. To quote Westley in The Princess Bride: "Anyone saying different is selling something." (Or something like that.) It's far too easy to find something else to do around the house rather than sitting down before my laptop and letting myself bleed all over the page. So I'll try to take an hour or so a few times a week and get more of my heart pinned down, writhing, to the page.

My apologies if I make writing sound so difficult. But I'm simply being realistic. Writing is difficult. It is WORK. Every true writer experiences a love/hate relationship with the pen or typewriter or PC. It's just the way it is.

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