Sunday, March 25, 2007
I find myself in these very, very hectic days pondering time—lack of it, where to carve out more—and my seeming lack of enthusiasm for getting my butt in the chair to write. Don't get me wrong. Once I start writing I love it, but it has more often than not become another chore, or discipline if you will, on a long list of chores I must complete to be the "perfect" person.
Side note: I know in my head there's no such thing as a perfect person, but this is just my personal neurosis. Since I recognize it as such, I'm going to consider myself marginally sane.
I'm offering this insight less as a whine and more in hopes of a discussion. I can discipline myself to write and I must to a certain extent, but I want to enjoy the process despite the craziness demanding attention in my life... Please, let April be over quickly!!!
I recently came across this passage in Dorothea Brande's Becoming a Writer, a classic published for the first time in 1934 that addresses more about the writer's personality than sentence structure and active verbs. She writes:
"We customarily expend enough energy in carrying out any simple action to bring about a result three times greater than the one we have in view... If we climb stairs, we climb them with every muscle and organ laboring as though our soul's salvation were to be found on the top step, and the result is that we grow resentful at the disproportionate returns we receive from our expended energy.
"Everyone has had the experience of pushing a door that looked closed with more vigor than necessary and of falling into the next room as a consequence... If you notice yourself on such an occasion, you will see that you must make a slight backward motion merely to retrieve your balance... But in changing habits, you will find yourself getting your results far more quickly and with less 'backwash' if you engage your imagination in the process instead of calling out the biggest gun of your character equipment first." ppg. 61-63
I, too, wonder if I have stumbled because I use too much "force" to progress my writing. Like a parent using only punishment to teach a child, rather than mixing in encouragement through positive reinforcement. What if I, instead, encouraged my mind to daydream? To entertain itself with my story as I go about the mundane tasks of cleaning, packing, and child-directing? Positively envisioning myself making time to write a satisfying amount... Jotting notes as my mind fills with the next scene...
I used to do this all the time, but the practice has been swamped under a load of To Do Lists. My mind constantly obsessing over the next thing to be done and where will the time come from? I know y'all know this, but I feel like I'm rediscovering this concept.
What are your thoughts about Ms. Brande's writings?
P.S. Join me in offering a big Playground SQUEEEEEE to Rhonda Nelson—our friend, fellow chaptermate, and a RITA finalist this year for her Blaze book The Specialist!!!!! We love you, Rhonda!