What a Writer Needs

Lately, as is pretty damn obvious from my lack of blog posts, I’ve been a little stuck in my writing efforts. I’m not talking writer’s block, it’s not that. I still write in my journal close to every day, and even though it’s all pretty much brain barf (a term so exquisitely coined by fellow writer, Karen), words are still pretty much flowing out of my pen with no problem.

But as far as the novel I’ve been working on for … oh, only about a quarter of a century now (you think I’m over exaggerating, but sadly, I’m not) … I’m stuck in the mud.  The story is essentially all there, all written down. I’ve made one round of very rough revisions, I kinda sorta know where all the problems are, and how to fix them. But there’s something missing that I can’t put my finger on exactly, and that’s what has me a bit paralyzed.  The whole thing isn’t geling the way that I’d like it. I’ve been waiting for it to come to me, and I can make out a form in the distance, but every time I grasp at it and try to write it down it disappears. Now it’s been so long since I’ve worked on or mentioned my novel, people have quit asking me about it. Not that I WANT anybody to ask, necessarily. It’s just that it makes it easy for me to ignore it and put it off that much longer. Countless times over the past few months I’ve toyed with the idea of officially giving up on the whole idea. I mean, who am I kidding? I don’t have the time, and when I do have the time, I don’t have the creative energy. And truth be told, I probably don’t have the talent. But the thought of giving up always depressing me to the point of wanting to hide under my covers and never come out. This is what I have that is mine. Something that has nothing to do with anybody else. My thing. For me.

But I didn’t start this post as a pity party. What I wanted to say is one thing that every writer needs is just one person … just one … who keeps needling at you. One person who keeps asking. Not in an accusing, scolding kind of way. Not even necessarily in an encouraging kind of way, really. Just asks. Now, before all of you who haven’t asked start feeling guilty, don’t. I really don’t want everybody in the world asking me about it. No, that would surely drive me crazy. You see, I think that person also needs to be writer. Someone who understands that just finding the time is only a small percentage of the battle. Someone who knows what it’s like to sit down at a blank page and hope the girls in the basement talk. Someone who has pages of pages of brain barf in front of them with the daunting task of shaping them into something coherent.

That person for me these days is my faithful Wiffer friend, Cynthia. I don’t think there has been a week that’s gone by for the past year that she hasn’t poked at me. Some of those weeks were weeks that I’d completely forgotten my story. And when I come back with, “nothing this week” she always understands, but she never ever stops asking. And for that, I am so grateful.

So when Cynthia recently came up with the idea of a September challenge, my first reaction was honestly not a positive one. I wasn’t sure if I was up for a challenge. My track record on challenges lately has been dismal at best. But since it was Cynthia, I felt obligated to give it some real thought. I started thinking about how I got my first draft done in the first place – by sitting my ass down and opening up Scrivener and just writing. What a concept, eh? Some days, the words didn’t come, or if they did come they were crap, but little by little the story started to flow and I found out I couldn’t wait to get back to it, to see what happened next. It was sort of like falling in love. And that’s what I need, to fall in love with the whole process of writing again.

And that, my friends, means I have to have an affair.

No, no. Not THAT kind of affair. I need to cheat on my current novel a bit, and take on another story. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about. I have a few pages of a story I’ve been toying with I might continue, or I might just start something else. The point is, I’m going to come the computer sit my ass down, open Scrivener, click on File, scroll down to New Document, and WRITE. Every day of September starting today (yes it’s the second, but that’s okay). It might be two words a day (like, “this sucks”) or it might be 200, or if I’m lucky, 1000. But it will be words. Kind of a NaNo sort of challenge but without a hard word count. And then maybe (I’m hoping) I can go back to my finished draft, and, well, finish.

Because I’m not giving this up. So there.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. coffeegirl88
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 16:16:07

    First of all young lady you march your ass over to the forums and tell everyone why your a great writer . . . seriously. You have the talent.

    I think you’ve been stuck with the idea that you have to finish one story before you can start another and well, that’s not true. You need a break and so you’ll take it. Call it cheating if you must *eyeroll* but as long as it gets you writing.

    I know what it’s like to write and be alone on that journey so I’m more than happy to bring you along on the journey. Besides, it’s always more fun to have a co-conspirator along. 😉

  2. Jennerosity
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 17:53:31

    I just love the idea of writers having a novel affair. It just sounds so scandalously juicy and enticing! I think it’s great that you’ve started this challenge with Cynthia and I think it’ll probably help to get you unstuck. I know that every time I work on a new writing project, I figure some things out, either about writing in general, my style, or craft. But it’s kind of nice to have a shiny new project where you can try out different things. Perhaps something you learn here will give you one of those wonderful ‘Aha!’ moments where you realize what you need to do with your current draft to get it finished.

    Best of luck! Hope to read more updates throughout the month!

  3. planetcoops
    Sep 02, 2010 @ 19:19:54

    Well done you. I think it does just take the determination to just sit down and write. I thought about doing NaNoWriMo, but realistically, not a chance! I know many writers keep several projects on the go and I can see that working on the one that suits your current mood might be a good plan. Good luck!

  4. Pamela Cayne
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 15:01:30

    First of all, this, this here–“Someone who understands that just finding the time is only a small percentage of the battle. Someone who knows what it’s like to sit down at a blank page and hope the girls in the basement talk. Someone who has pages of pages of brain barf in front of them with the daunting task of shaping them into something coherent.”

    Amen, sister. A-to-the-hallelujah-men!

    Second, I’m glad you decided to cheat. It felt like you needed that long before I read that you were going to. Sometimes a breath of fresh or a new shiny is what we need to get us going again. And I hope this isn’t the wrong place to ask, but what is the status of Sin Wagon? I’ve been thinking of that for a while now, and this seemed like the best time to ask. If it’s your rock you keep pushing up the hill–sorry. If it’s not, could it be your new shiny, because I really, really, really want to read that bad girl!

    YOU CAN DO IT!!! YAWP!!!

  5. kimberlyfoley
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 15:38:06

    Pam – You remember Sin Wagon??! I’m truly touched. Yes, that is one of the stories rolling around in my mind. I started it, then it took a bad turn down the wrong road and I lost my way for a bit, but I think I’ve turned it around. And even though I’ve got a busted headlight and the turn signal doesn’t work, I think I’m close to finding the right road. Thanks for the encouragement. As usual, you win the prize for best cheerleader! Love you!

  6. kimberlyfoley
    Sep 03, 2010 @ 15:39:06

    And thanks to all of you for the encouragement. I’m already starting to fall in love again, and it’s intoxicating. Love you all!

  7. Melissa Kline
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 03:58:11

    Kim,

    You are so very inspiring! I’m so glad to have met you. Hope to see you again very soon!

    Take care and keep writing! You’re very talented!!!

    ~Melissa 🙂

  8. kimberlyfoley
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 16:09:48

    Melissa! It was truly wonderful meeting you last night! Thank you for visiting my blog. You are such an inspiration to me as well, and I can’t wait to get to know you better. I’m so grateful to have stumbled upon your group!

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