Saturday, July 31, 2010

Writing is a Game of Inches

My son recently linked me one of his favorite blogs titled Rands in Repose (another reason to raise children well: they turn out to be very interesting adults who can bring new ideas into your life).  While I liked the post about bookshelves, I was very interested in his new post about writing a book.  (The title to this blog is taken from that post.)

He has lots of great advice, but it begins with the bold statement:
"Don’t write a book. Even better, stop thinking about writing a book. Your endless internal debate and self-conjured guilt about that book you haven’t written yet is a sensational waste of your time. My guess is if you took all the time that you’ve spent considering writing a book and translated that into actual writing time, you’d be a quarter of your way into writing that book you’re not writing."

Somedays I think I'm about there.  It's been roughly five years since I graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing, and the (hideously complicated) novel is tucked away safely on some dusty shelf, the strains of pomp and circumstance long gone.  But so is the notion that I'd ever complete another book.  Or write and be paid for it.  I immediately went off on sabbatical with my husband, and I dutifully re-wrote the (hideously complicated) novel once but when I started in again, I realized it could probably never be re-written to my satisfaction.

One day I took an inventory of a few of my fellow graduate students.  Sherri is a roller derby queen.  EJ got one of the few available full-time faculty positions at the local community college.  Melanie is a teacher at one of the high schools in the area. Motherhood has captured Jenny.  Elizabeth spent the years after graduation nursing her son through his (eventually fatal) brain cancer. Kate still teaches part-time at the institution we all graduated from and is the only one I know that is writing (drama, for local productions, but I don't know if she gets paid for it). And me?  I write blogs and teach part time at a local community college.

The guilt over Not Writing at times is huge.  My sister told me she thought that my blogging was a way of getting my writing out there.  She's probably correct.  So when I read Michael Lopp's post this morning, it resonated.  I do write nearly every day, in short bloggy forms.  The habit--and the urge--is compelling.  But, in spite of that writing degree, the encouragement from people that matter to me, and that nagging thought that I if don't take a leap off the cliff I won't know if I can fly, I still don't know--even though I have the basic plot line and the characters for a novel--if a book will ever come out of me.

So instead, I just pull up the keyboard, open a blog, and start writing.

1 comment:

Kristen A said...

I enjoyed the article very much.

He and I have some different writing habits (perhaps because it sounds like he writes non-fiction?) but I loved his comments.

I remember when I bought our laser printer and it was because I print off large sections of writing...often.

I love writing - even if people stop reading my little forays into fictional worlds - I think I will still always need to write.