Saturday, September 21, 2013

Writing in the Midst of Life

Like many women (and men, too), I wear a lot of hats in my life. I'm a wife, mother, sister, and daughter. I'm a teacher. I'm a homeowner with a family so that makes me a taxi driver, a cook, housekeeper, pet care provider, academic tutor, maid, an event planner, a sanitation expert, and (sometimes it feels like) all around drudge and flunky.

That's not meant to be a complaint. I've made all the choices that brought me here and I love my family, my job and my home, even if they steam-roll me from time to time.

What it's meant to be is context.  This is the context in which I try to build a writing life. 

When I was a child and young woman, I imagined my life as a writing as full of long quiet hours of reading and contemplation followed by long quiet hours of productivity.  That, of course, is not my life.

But I need to write. I am downright cranky when I don't get that creative outlet.  There's a kind of joy I get in writing that I don't find anywhere else in life.  And, if I kept waiting for those long quiet hours to do it in, I wasn't ever going to write anything.

So I found a way to write in midst of life.  I committed to myself that I would write at least 250 words every single day. And I've done it. For more than 200 days. And writing in these smaller chunks is changing how I write.  I've always been more a pantser than a planner when I write. For those who know me and my infamous color coded google calendar, that's probably a surprise.  But, yes, in my writing, I'm all spontaneity. I don't know what's going to happen until I write and find out.

Maybe it's because I began my writing life as a poet, but novels don't come to me in huge sweeping outlines. I get a scene. A thought. A condition. Then I write to find out what's going to happen. Discovery writing. This is well suited to writing in short periods of time amid the chaos of home. It's almost like reading a serial novel.  I leave myself with a cliffhanger each day and come back the next day to find out what happened. But, I have to write it myself when I get there.

Yesterday, Patricia found out that Dr. Liu couldn't have been her kidnapper. Tonight, when I get to write, I'll find who the kidnapper was. I can't wait!

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