Monday, November 29, 2010

One Writer's Weekend

Every year the same thing happens, I look forward to the Thanksgiving holiday with tremendous anticipation and grandiose plans for all that I am going to accomplish. I lay in provisions and gin, I try to eliminate as many distractions as I can, I warn people I will be unavailable, and I make a list of all the amazing things I plan to accomplish. And every year the Monday after comes and I sit here thinking what went wrong?

To be fair I did get a lot done on one project but all the other ones suffered for it. I also slept a lot, watched some movies though nothing worth raving about, and spent time with a couple friends. But, as usual, my perception of time and what can be accomplished in it was way off base.

However, I did get a lot of work done on the new book and that made me happy. I had come to an impasse and it was making me crazy. No matter how much you love your characters and how well you know everything is going to turn out in the end getting from Point A to Point B can often be problematic. Sometimes what seems to work in your head doesn't work on paper or vice versa.

I'm a great believer in trusting the process and in writing through. I have discovered over the years that when I just decide to sit down and focus on a character, let them speak to me and tell me who they are and what they have done good things tend to happen. Later I may have to trim that down or rearrange details but, more often than not, paying attention is key. Characters are like any other human being, they blossom under well-intended attention.

I wrote in an earlier post about the amazing why in which Arthur's Story came to me. That is a rarity – you can't count on that happening. But even when you just sit with a character and say, “okay, tell me more about you” something worthwhile usually happens. I learned an important lesson from JK Rawlin who writes wonderful, delightful, believable characters. She said that she writes full biographies for characters, draws pictures of them and spends time dialoging with them. That almost always gets me unstuck from the place I am in when I am working on a novel or even a short story. So this weekend I didn't quite make it all the way from Point A to Point B but at least now I know how I am going to get there.

Today the notice came from my publisher that my monthly direct deposit had been made for my share of the books sold three months ago (It is November so I am getting paid for August). That is always an absolute thrill to me because it is money that comes to me for no other reason than that I am a writer. I'm a long way from being able to live on it but it always makes me feel good. I try to make a point to use that money for something nice for myself so I can feel the satisfaction of having an income from writing. This month I used it to order a pair of beautiful leather Dansk clogs I've had my eye on a couple other little treats. Every time I wear those clogs I'll be able to remember I am a writer.

So, I'm done working for today and I need to do a few errands and then I can read what I wrote over the weekend and think about what comes next. I've got a lot of work to do but the good thing about being a writer is my life is always interesting – at least inside my head.

Thanks for reading.    

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