It was an interesting writing group meeting the other night. More of a confessional than a meeting, with each of us bemoaning the entire lack of movement when it comes to our writing. Except for some minor blogging (and getting my novel back from Andy, yay!), we sat at the high bar table, feet dangling, condensation slicking our beers and rum and cokes, we hung our heads in shame and admitted defeat.
Excuses we have a’plenty, enough for any reasonable man.
But we are writers. We are not supposed to be reasonable, but we are supposed to be writing.
Modest goals all around for next week, as well as a new tentative location. We have been orphaned, you see, turfed out of what’s been our home away from home for the last two years, victims of a new policy that might have merit but seem unreasonably, or thoughtlessly, applied.
We’ve tried the Laughing Buddha, and we love it, but the tables are small, the place hopping, and unless we can score a table on the second floor it’s almost impossible to write there. Meet, yes, but write, not so much.
We tried the Doghouse this last week, but it’s a bar. A rowdy bar, with loud music and food that cannot be readily eaten while writing. Tables were a good size, but we’re moving on.
Next up, Little Montreal. We’ve heard good things. Fingers crossed!
Now, on to my specific hangups. The writing … oh, the lack of writing.
At this point, it’s all about me procrastinating. I’m the one deliberately putting it off because I am at the wall, the 30,000 word mark where “it’s serious.” It’s not play anymore, it’s not pretend, it’s “for reals” and I have to take it seriously. And that freezes me up. Instantly. I’m waffling about the plot when I know that if I sat down and kept writing, these would reveal themselves.
So I’m coming at it sideways. I did some intensive mind-mapping while at work today and suddenly I have some new threads to run with. I also managed a small number of words on Monday, 500 words, that was encouraging. I just have to trust the story, the words, that they will come when I show up to the page.
I think the other main reason that I have had a nose-dive in output is that I have been religiously following the 750word.com regimen for about the same amount of time that I have not been writing. I’ve hit over 40,000+ words in that time frame, all of it useless, self-absorbed babble. Yes, it’s nice to be able to get the crap out of your head, all the petty and stupid and frustrating bits that fill up the corners of your mind and crowd out the good stuff, but what it means is that my actual paper journal, which is where that shit is supposed to go, is sitting there untouched for a month and because I have pounded the keys for three pages, my brain thinks, “Hey, you’ve written something today! Take it easy!”
Been taking it too easy already.
It might also have been getting back the critique for the novel. It’s hard not to lose faith in your abilities when it comes back and there are glaring issues with the plot, with character motivation, and conflict. You worry about the current story. Have I learned anything? Have I missed something obvious? It makes me want to get critiqued chapter-by-chapter like some of the other members, but I worry that it would make the novel would turn to quicksand right under me.
Beyond that, I am not sure I am prepared to share my work that soon, that raw. The novel I just had them read was a first draft, but the short stories I have had them critique lately have been edited much more (and I think have been better work, to boot). I want the next novel they get to be much more polished. I’d also like to get feedback on my Script Frenzy script, but I have not been brave enough to ask them to read a 180-page script. (Yes, I realize it’s way too long, but I will be using it as the blueprint for a novel down the road…)
So, heavy mind, heavy heart.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to apply some Getting Things Done (TM) methodology to my madness. It is helping in some respects, but there is more fine-tuning to go. What I am realizing (both intellectually and practically) is that I have more time at my disposal than I think I do. Tonight I had a laundry list as long as what I normally set aside for an entire day off, and I managed it all in the five hours since I’ve come home. I’ve cleaned, I’ve cooked, I’ve done three loads of laundry, caught up on my banking, emailed the group, updated my novel and my Excel word count sheets, written both my 750words entry for the day and this blog entry, watched the last season’s finale of The Big Bang Theory and watched last night’s episodes of The Daily Show and Colbert Report.
Tomorrow night it’s work on Blood of Wolves — we’re talking fresh words, built on the mind-mapping I got done today and any additional work I complete tomorrow. (And because I will be on my feet all day doing floor support, I will probably be caffeinating myself HEAVILY.) Sunday night will be a brainstorming night about the last novel. While I plan to actually edit it in December, I should brainstorm about it now while the idea and the critiques are still fresh. Monday night is the next write-in — more words.