The later sunrise was welcome this morning as the sky filled with tinges of orange that bled into blue. In the rush of the routine that should stretch an hour but is squeezed into just over half that, I was reminded once outside to allot more time for warming up the car. This being the first frosty morning of the season, and there being only a slight dust of frost on the wind shield, the trusty car squeegee still came in handy. I’ve been asked twice this past week about that squeegee, where I got it from, and what a good idea. Thank you dollar store. And by this writing, there isn’t any evidence of said frost. Nor of the fog that had settled over Victoria for much of October –an unusual constancy even for here. While I appreciate the frost-kissed rooftops, and the brisk wakeful cold of the morning, I miss the fog, that encroaching blanket that has its own style of comfort and nestles one’s spirit. The best would be to have a foggy Halloween; I could do without the frost.
The autumn cold of the wooden floor on her feet sent an upward shock all the way to her scalp. This began Meghan’s morning, every morning, before the coffee was poured, the toast slightly burned, and her resignation that the dishes in the sink would have to survive until her return home that night. A prospect she was not at all welcoming. Roger Belfast was expected, and it was all she could do to not feel that same cold floor shock repeat itself while a bite of toast was starting to make route down her throat. It was easy to want to hate him. Her anger with him still stung, though she didn’t wish to admit it, nor the thought whether his six-foot frame and GQ chin scruff still held their appeal. She touched her cheek remembering the way he used to kiss her. With the fire set in his eyes with such strong intent, it often froze her. What truly froze her was how they parted. Six years hadn’t been long enough to undo the damage. With an annoyed head shake, she hurried breakfast, and focused on the welcome thought of her new job as executive assistant, but that lost ground to being without a budget to fix the constant drip in the tub, and back to Roger again. She had few resources available because, of course, she had returned to her home town of Chatterton after a decade of big city life that left her bank account barren, and only knowing a few friends from her 20’s, with whom she had managed to keep touch with on a slightly more than semi-annual basis, Meghan felt uncomfortably needy to use her ex-boyfriend to fix the tap leak. Couldn’t there have been anyone else available? It was a topic for ripe discussion, and surely her best friend, Marina, would take hold of that when they’d meet shortly. Luckily, or unluckily, Marina was also her new boss, and thank God, because it made moving back so much easier, but her paycheque wasn’t due for two weeks, “and that’s why I need him to help. It’s an old house, and I used the rest of my money for groceries. You know, I know this nice gal who employs good people. Maybe she could allot an advance?” Meghan had a way of sneaking requests in.
“Not on your life! Then you wouldn’t have the chance to get reacquainted with Roger!”, and that was Marina’s way of creating the drama she loved to witness.
In Marina’s office, Meghan played absent-mindedly with the only non-business item on the desk, an Einstein bobble head. “I have nine hours before seeing him for the first time in 6 years. And even though I am curious about what he looks like, I am grateful he’s taking the project on, for free.”
“Oh, I’m not so sure it’s that easy”, Marina pointed out.
“I seem to recall he was always up for a good deal. He’s had a few years of negotiation practice with his maintenance business.”
“And what are you referring to exactly.” Marina just smiled. It was all that was needed, and Meghan knew what she meant. She didn’t even have to say that much.
Did you read my subhead above? (The one about distraction.) Surely, writers are the masters of appointing distraction as priority of the moment. It’s that wretched blank page that has become a fearsome addled, yet still wantonly creative, space that draws you. The calling has you, and probably since before you can remember.
Some writers are masters of their To Do lists, even Yours Truly (shock, amazement here). I call my distractions my To Do’s because, hey, that just sounds a whole lot better. I’m so To Do list organized, I even have an app for that. Yes, I did try using the Reminder List courtesy of the iPhone, but when that started growing a tail I couldn’t see the end of, it was time to box up every worry, concern, want, and administrative mom duty into something visually manageable.
And then, the inevitable happened. My To Do’s became my distraction instead of having them encased all appealingly well so as not to be.
What the flip?
While checking the day’s can’t-forget-abouts is handy in the morning, and wishful planning adds more check boxes often in the evening, there does come a time when the honeymoon is over –boredom with organization. Sometimes super management does its job; it frees up that last and most viable excuse to write: there is time.
What?? Time? What’s that?
Here’s where you add scary to the description of the job of writing. Because now, you’re all out of excuses, and what is cornered for attention is writing.
For the moment, anyway.
The simple answer:
Or yes. If you were to be one of the lucky few, but that’s being part of a very small group with the likes of that gal who wrote about that kid wizard, or that gent who makes murders a creative whim from his 9-5 effort every day (J.K. Rowling and Stephen King).
But mostly no. The truth about writing that doesn’t get much real estate in conversations or the page is that writing is a slog. S-L-O-G. Only, most don’t admit that because everyone who is not a writer loves to put glamour around a profession he or she pines to do constantly with his or her inside voice. The writer just smiles because it’s almost as if the air surrounding her is already filled with that E word: expectation. Also, belief. Also, let’s get real here.
Friends might say, “Oh, so you’re writing a book? That’s great! So, what’s it about?” And then that’s about as far as that conversation gets because then you’d have to delve into talk about publishing, which most haven’t a clue about, so that gets dodged pretty quickly. Stalemate. Not glam.
The slog isn’t in the actual writing part, although most would see it that way. The slog is in the post-production. It’s all those re-writes, and deciphering an editor’s comments, and the continual revising that disrupts your sleep because the end of chapter five is weak, and you knew that all along. The slog continues because the next stage, actually selling, is what undermines more than a few writers, and Twitter cannot be the sole source of announcing “I’ve written a book everybody!! Come buy my book here. Click on this link!!”. Writers who know marketing sell books. Writers who know their readers, who they’re aiming for, are the true sloggers. Make it through that, and maybe then the glam will come.
The continuing downpour over Victoria and the very west of Canada the last few days, which has made the street out front look like a mini river at times, and me extra thankful that the roof is doing its job, somehow has to segue to talking about writing. As abundant as the rains are, and near torrential (okay, maybe not quite, but let’s be dramatic, shall we?) as they have been, should be akin to what every writer should be, and that is –prolific.
Write A LOT. Write every day. Yes, yes, yes, I can practically hear you saying this is not news. You’re right. It’s not, but are you writing a lot? What is a lot to you? Is it frequency? Or is it the number of words you pour out onto the page every day? You really have jump in when it comes to writing. Might we say, get all wet. I don’t think there’s a pun here I can include about swimming…but do you get my drift? *even I am rolling my eyes here
Puns aside, what A LOT means to you might mean something completely different to another writer. It might mean being able to sneak off in a quiet corner with your favourite bevvy, and starting with a good title. Oh, I love doing that –a whole story just based on a cool sounding title that was part of a random conversational phrase that, even since, still seems a saleable genius of sorts. Yes, you do that, too.
The point about being prolific is not only having the goal of selling books, even though there are some who write for the mere pleasure of it with no intent to make money –and bless those creative souls!, but for the one reason being torrential with writing is a good thing. It makes your writing stronger. Better. Sharper. Your style shines though and you get comfortable with what your style even is. That’s the flagging downside for new writers, not having a good grip on personal writing style. It does surface *enough with the water references, Rach!! *I’m grinning after having written oceans and oceans of words. *again, okay, you can grin this time, or roll your eyes, your choice The writer of torrents of words becomes her own best sifter. She can identify the sections and pages of the work that are ‘drowning’, but after some practice, and this will very likely takes years, that part will be less and less.
In the meantime, being torrential with words is the way to sail into your writing.
Pink horsetails filled the disappearing day, and in the distance white cirrus clouds blended against the remaining blue, quickly losing against the coming of night. The first ‘star’ seen above the 49th parallel is only a satellite, Ginny thought while absent mindedly picking at her flagging cuticle, and not Ursa Major that could be seen later at night when the sky turned into her favourite –purple-black. She hoped the waiting list for this summer’s astronomy camp was shorter than last year’s, and that she’d actually get in. She had told her mom that she was interested in going because her best friend Stacy said she was already signed up, which was true, but being a week after her fifteenth birthday, it was not the top reason. Knowing that the week long camp would have cute sixteen year old Jonah Hopkins from the next school over, and who rode the same bus on the same route as her, and got off one stop before hers, plainly allowing her to study him intently in secret (as she always sat at the back for a good view, even though it meant she’d likely, and always did, sacrifice a possible compliment on –what? anything!!, because anything voiced from the sweet basketball playing, and finely maturing young man as was Jonah) would be worth it. Last year she couldn’t wait to go home every day, trying to find some excuse to bow out early from making macramé bracelets (really? who does that anymore?) or some boredom-inducing craft that she would just throw into the garbage later.
Stacy snapped her fingers in Ginny’s face to prevent her from staring too longingly at the coming stars, and returned to finishing the caramel popcorn bits at the bottom of the bowl.
“Gin, you’ll never guess what I found out today… about that someone you’re practically engaged to!”
Stacy always had a a way of exaggerating things in Ginny’s favour, always with significant details, which made them the perfect best friends, because she couldn’t get enough about the details Stacy’d spill, and Stacy knew Ginny catered to her dishing them out. Ginny was her perfect audience since grade four, and that made them the longest friendship pair in all of Bramworth High…
“And did you think for one minute that that would change anything?” she pointedly challenged. It wasn’t the last thought in her head. It was the first in a series that seemed to dominate her otherwise subdued nature. Alice turned, hardly waiting for an answer, but keenly interested in one. Gerry wasn’t at all sure what to make of this sudden drama; his lips pressed, and she saw him thinking hard, contemplating a response, and regardless of his reply, even in her momentary fury, her attention turned to those lips, and how much she wanted to feel their softness…