Sunday, May 29, 2016

On Writing Time and Other Frustrations

As I've worked for the last month or two on a fairly clearly defined "writing schedule," I'm finding that getting time to write is difficult. I clearly understand why I had been making such slow progress on my previous project. In this day and age I think the myth of the "stay at home" mother who does nothing but sleep late and go on nature walks and make adorable craft projects with her perfectly behaved children, or whatever it is that we supposedly do all day, has been dispelled. In reality, it is hard work that consumes most of a mom's time and energy with very little immediate reward or visible progress, other than children who are alive, fed, and somewhat for the most part groomed. It is more than a full time job, it's a life's work that for several years is pretty much the only life we have time for. Personal pursuits such as part-time careers, hobbies and interests, are always secondary. And by secondary I mean they fall somewhere in the approximately 5% of time left after chasing kids around and trying (often failing) to run a household, eating, and sleeping. For me, finding time to write has meant making sacrifices in one or more of those areas. And I'm not the kind of person who sacrifices easily, especially when the sacrifices I make also mean asking the most important people in my life to sacrifice time and convenience, too.

So far, even though I'm supposedly writing on a schedule, that hasn't looked much like writing. There's been a lot of trying to research and outline and failing either because schedules fall through, other important things come up, or I forget essential items like my brainstorming notebook. Which, incidentally, is why I'm sitting at Starbucks writing this blog post this evening instead of outlining my book. It's been rather frustrating. I have made progress, although not nearly as much as I'd hoped to by this point. I'm looking at my anticipated first draft start date of June 1st and panicking a little. Sometimes a lot. From my conversations with other writers I know it's fairly common to have a certain level of anxiety surrounding a project, particularly if there is a deadline involved. So the fact that I keep wondering if I can really write this book, if I can write it on time, if anyone will want to read it once it's written, if I really have what it takes to be a writer or if I'm just a poser, is apparently not unusual. But it is moderately painful. Sometimes I'm just tired. Writing is work, and when you write from home you work when you can whether or not you feel like it, but the fact is that when I'm tired and distracted the plots and outlines and words don't flow very well as when I'm at least moderately rested and focused and alert.

The good news is, I have time. I have a fairly generous deadline. I have plenty of time to not only write but also revise and polish up my manuscript before I turn it in. I have hope that it will get better soon, as I settle into this new routine and start the actual writing. But today I'm a little low on inspiration and energy and not quite loving this writing life.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

On Mythology

The project I'm working on currently involves some well-known mythological characters, so I've been doing research into these characters and the stories that surround them. It's fun research because I get to read some imaginative stories, including novels, which are always my favorite. I'm learning that it's possible to get creative with mythology, because that's what people do. There's no such thing as maintaining historical accuracy because over the years people have turned these folks into whatever they want. Which means I get to do the same thing. As long as certain names, places, and things maintain a sense of familiarity, I can build on the mythological foundation and add my own piece to the structure. And that sounds really fun.

I'm making progress with my plot. In all the writing I've done previously, I've started with characters and then created a story. This time I'm starting with a plot and adding characters. In terms of craft it's a pretty subtle difference, and I'm approaching my outline the same way I normally would. But it feels weird to me because there are some characters who I don't have names for yet. I'm not good with names anyway. So I just think of them as "so and so" or as someone's dad or friend or goat. Actually that's not entirely true. The goat's name is Una.

My plan is to spend the rest of this month outlining, and launch into the actual writing beginning in June. I've tweaked my schedule and hopefully soon I'll feel more comfortable with this writing like it's a job thing. If you're reading this and you're one of my writer friends, I'll finally be ready to do some writing sprints in June so hit me up on Facebook and Twitter and stuff.

Today's blog is short (like me, haha) but I wanted to check in and update things for those of you who have been asking "how's the writing going?" Short answer: I'm happy with my progress. Long answer: Weeelll, I'm technically not exactly writing, not yet anyway. But I have most of a plot and I'm going to to some pretty mean things to my main character and I think she has a pet goat. I'm looking forward to writing this book. It might be painful but I think it will be good.