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The Write Fight

October 7, 2008

But how much time do you have to live a life that is less than what you dream of?
– from the Illuminated Mind blog (not that I’m into self-help, but it doesn’t hurt, right?)

When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day, what else can change your idea and make them run on a different plane like whiskey?
– Ernest Hemingway (via David’s email a few years back)

The Valley Full of Clouds” Writing a novel is as if you are going off on a journey across a valley. The valley is full of mist, but you can see the top of a tree here and the top of another tree over there. And with any luck you can see the other side of the valley. But you cannot see down into the mist. Nevertheless, you head for the first tree.
– Terry Pratchett (no idea who he is, but I like this)

If you have a broken heart or a battered soul, find something to hold on to or to let go,To help you through the hard nights like a flask filled with hope. Darlin’ do not fear what you don’t really know.
-Brett Dennen (one of my favorite musicians…I just love the idea of a flask filled with hope, which even when filled with Jameson’s is sort of the same thing.)

I tell you what. I am completely fascinated by writers and how they write, why they write, what they do when they write, and what they think about writing in general. And I am unfortunately influenced by cheesy self-help quotes (like those above) more than I like to admit. And I think the reason why, is because since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to be a writer. Now, I know I am a writer, but not technically. Not professionally. I have never been paid to write fiction, so in my head I’m no writer. And I attach myself to these quotes because this is a battle I go through every night: to write or not to write.

It could be worse. It could be to have a drink or not have a drink. It could be some other addiction or whatever. But it’s not. I’m fully capable of having a beer or glass of wine or a glass of Jameson’s without slipping down into a dark place. I’m good like that. But the one thing that gets pushed aside more days than I like to admit, is my lack of consistency in writing. And not a day goes by that I don’t consider what a loser I am for not sitting down to write.

So I sit at work and find quotes like the first one above and think, “yeah that’s right. I need to re-set my priorities.” And then I get home from work and give my wife a well-deserved kiss, play with the kids, have dinner with the family, wash the dishes, and then sit down for some chill time with my wife…and then I’m in the fight…the fight to write. And usually, I give in to the tiredness of the day and take the easy way out. And I don’t fight anything.

A month after my daughter was born in October of 2003, I did NANOWRIMO in November. I wrote a 50k word novel in one month, with a one month old daughter and supporting wife. I actually did it and even bought myself a t-shirt to prove it. I put out 2k words a day and got into the mysterious, hypnotic rhythms of writing that I’d only read about until that point. You know the whole thing about how the characters or the story just take over and you write on auto-pilot because you’re totally and completely locked in. That’s what it was like. It was amazing and I felt like a writer.

And now I struggle to nail 500 words a night, which is my latest, more reasonable goal.

And this blog doesn’t count.

I have to remind myself of this one last piece of wisdom from another (actual, professional) writer who writes about how hard it is to actually sit down and work.

Sitting in the chair + typing words into the computer = finished manuscript.”
-Robyn Amos (again, I have NO idea who she is, but she seems to fight these same fights.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    October 7, 2008 6:24 pm

    Hey there…

    I just wanted to let you know if you think you are a writer, you are. If you think you’re not, you won’t be.

    Putting out a 50k word novel is pretty amazing man.

    I suggest you check out the book “How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead” by Ariel Gore. Highly recommend and will give you some good inspiration to keep going.

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