Just…Write.

I have a book coming out in October called A Penny on the Tracks. When I finished and edited that story, I was satisfied with what I had. I felt my writing had evolved from my first two books. I submitted the MS and was lucky to have my first choice of publishers accept the story and offer me a contract. I was on a terrific high for days, until I started writing my next book.

If I felt I had grown as a writer while writing my third book, I feel I am regressing as a writer as I write my fourth. Every line I write reads like bullet points. Lacking is the eloquent prose that draws a reader into the story, compelling them to feel they are the character I depict and everything happening in the story is happening to them.

I’m a little more than halfway into my book and last night I deleted over three thousand words (and God only knows how many wasted hours). They were crap. Absolutely horrible, and they had to go. So off they went.

I know I’m supposed to write the first draft without editing. Shut the internal editor inside me down.  Just get it out. Only when I have my first draft completed, am I to push myself on every word. That’s what I was told to do, but I’ve been working on this particular story for over five months and I don’t even have a finished first draft yet.

I have an edited and reedited first 134 pages, but I don’t have an ending. I know how I want the story to end, just not sure how to get there. I’m too preoccupied with the first half of the story being perfect.

I need to get the first daft out and write words no matter how bad I think they are because I can’t edit words that aren’t on the page.

Write. Write. Write.

But last night, instead of writing I was deleting. I know the more I do this, the longer I am prolonging the completion of a first draft, but the desperate rationalization inside me figures those words were going to go at some point, because they were terrible, so I saved myself the time later.

I know if I am going to finish this book sometime this year, I need to change my mindset and just…fucking…write.

 

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

When You Need the Ear Monster

When I was a young girl, I couldn’t fall asleep if my ears were not covered. I believed in the Ear Monster, and the Ear Monster tore off all the exposed ears of sleeping children. So I slept with my covers pulled tightly over half my head.

I shared a room with my sister at the time, and I remember being absolutely blown out of my mind that not only did my older sister sleep with her ears uncovered, but she also slept facing the wall, leaving her back exposed to the outside. Another big no-no for me.

We slept in separate twin beds, pushed up against walls directly across from each other. The wall on my side was my safety, my shield. If I wanted to lie on my side, I had to lie so my back faced the wall–always. To lie the other way, with my back facing open space, meant that any monster under my bed, or in my closet, could have sneaked up on me and snatched me from my bed, and I’d never see it coming.

I needed to feel prepared, facing the direction of any possible incoming attacks from the monsters that only came out at night. I must have scared them off with my ready-to-defend-myself position because they never came after me one time –not once.

I had forgotten for a long time about the Ear Monster, but I thought of my childhood nemesis when I remembered my college Creative Writing professor, who had once instructed the class I was sitting in to look to children for inspiration when we were struggling to write because children have highly imaginative and creative minds.

My professor was right. My childhood imagination ran amok, especially at night.

I am currently writing my third book, a book I had planned to have completed months ago. I’m near the end, but for the past few weeks I’ve been getting stuck in certain places, unsure of the path to take the story while on my way to the ending I’ve already written. You can say I’m blocked.

I need my old childhood imagination. I need the Ear Monster.

 

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Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Never…Stop…Writing

I’m currently working on my third book. My first book, Her Name, was released last year. My second book, Loving Again, will be out this November.

I have a tentative title for my new book. The beginning of the story is set and the last scene has already been written. What I don’t have is a middle. I don’t yet know the words that will fill the pages from 27-103. The bones of my story lack any meat.

Knowing how the story ends should make the book that much easier to write because the path couldn’t get anymore clearer. I am writing towards something. The signs are all pointing specifically to one place with precise directions– turn left, then right, then left again. But instead of driving straight to my destination, I’m making unnecessary U-turns.

Writing is hard, but it doesn’t have to be this hard and I know that.

I also know the first draft is only for me. I’m supposed to get the words out first and edit later. I’m not supposed to go back and rewrite scenes.

Move forward. Keep going. Don’t stop writing.

If something is unclear about the plot or character development is weak, make a note and highlight it. I can get back to it later, but whatever I do I’m not supposed to stop writing.

NeverStopWriting.

Yet, I’ve been staring at blank pages for months now, lucky to get a couple dozen scenes written that most likely will be long gone once the final draft is completed.

Where I had planned a first draft to be finished by Aug 1 (not gonna happen), I am now clinging to the hope that it will be completed by the time Loving Again is released.

I have numerous works-in-progress, unfinished stories, sitting in a desk drawer beside me. I don’t remember the specific reasons that made me stop writing each of those stories, but I assume self-doubt took over me, as it is trying to do now. I do recall many moments of poring over a story and questioning whether I had anything left in me to write. I still have those thoughts and I’ve only completed two books, and they were novellas.

My writing journey has only begun and already I’m hanging myself over the cliff, pressuring myself with the stressful worries of “Will I make it?”

My passion is writing. It’s always been writing. I know I will never stop, just as I know I will complete my third book and absolutely fall in love with it, and then wonder what all the fuss was about.

What I’m experiencing now is a tiny detour, and as frustrated as I may feel, I know this diversion will make me more appreciative of the moment I finally reach my destination, filled with sweet gratification.

All I have to do is NeverStopWriting.

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Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Just Another Day of Not Writing

I am a writer. I write. Unless I can think of nothing to write. Then I don’t know what I am. I suppose I’m still all the same things I am while I write, when I’m not writing. I’m a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a friend…a basically good decent human being, thank you very much.

Except when I can’t write, I feel like I’m nothing. That’s a terrible feeling. I may still be all those other things, but when I’m not writing, I’m not a writer.

I know how I’m supposed to present this to myself, as well as to others when they ask, Hey Alicia, how’s the writing going?

I don’t say  – It sucks. I @#%^$#% hate writing. I slammed my hand against the wall three times yesterday. My head soon followed. 

Instead, I slouch my shoulders. Apologetic soft grin and utter the words – Writer’s block.

Encouraging smiles all around. Arm pats. Don’t worry, it’ll come back….Write through it…You did it once, you can do it again…Is there anything we can do? 

Yes, feel sorry for me. Feel sorry that I can’t do my job. I’ll remember to feel sorry for the paramedic who forgets how to perform CPR – I’m sorry he’s gone. But I was blocked……..It’s okay. We didn’t like him much anyway. 

I hate the words “writer’s block” and whenever I use it, I verbally abuse myself later. I hate it because it lets me off the hook. It excuses my failure to meet that day’s deadline – one page, two pages, five hundred words – as though it were out of my hands. Does God control writer’s block? No? I didn’t think so. So the ability still must be within me and yet…

We (me) use writer’s block as an explanation because it is prettier than images of punching and slamming walls, or throwing objects. There’s something quaint and self-suffering, very ‘Hemingway-esque,’ about the term “Writer’s block.” Wikipedia defines it as “a condition…in which an author loses the ability to produce new work.”

You see…I’m not really bad at what I do. I have a “condition.” I’m excused. I suffer from a “documented” problem that has affected all the best writers – including Hemingway.

The fact is – I need to be inspired. I am a writer who needs to be inspired to write. There are writers who wake up and write. They have a schedule and they stick to it. They don’t have to take walks. Observe Nature. Hear children’s laughter. Or listen to inspiring movie scores on YouTube.

They just write. They Sit. In silence. And write.

Something pops into their heads and they may not know it as they write (or maybe they do b/c they’re just that good) but their ideas will lead to something – a new character a reader will fall in love with, or a surprising twist the reader will never see coming until the words spill from their lips across the pages.

But I need the music. I need the feeling. I need the inspiration. Joe Pesci sits across from me, scowling at me. “I’m a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh? I’m here to…amuse you?”

Yes, Joe, you are. Amuse me. Inspire me. Do something. Please.

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