Monday, June 3, 2013

Writer's Update

Vacation Dreaming
As part of the Progressive Book Club, I have started reading The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  Now, this isn't a book meant just to read, but a guidebook or workbook meant to be used to help a person find or recover their creativity.  So I admit I'm coming to it from a weird place: I don't feel the least "blocked," and I've embraced my creative self like never before.  That makes it a little unclear what I'm hoping to get from it.  I'll be up front, too: I'm not real comfortable with the religious aspects of the book.  Yeah, I know Cameron says that if you don't believe in God, just ignore the use of that word or substitute "the great creative force" or whatever.  Thing is, any of that requires a belief in some kind of divine force.  Not sure I'm there.

Okay, so I'm trying to see what I can do with this.  In the first week, the two primary tasks are set out: the Artist's Date and Morning Pages.  Okay, I kind of get these.  The Artist's Date is taking a set time each week to do something that nurtures your inner artist.  Trouble is, some of the things she suggests don't interest me much (and she does say this should feel more indulgent than like a duty).  Other things I already do.  I don't need to take my inner artist for a walk on the beach, because I've probably already taken it (along with all the rest of me) for a run on the beach.  I'm thinking that my exercise obsession (especially the strong outdoor component) is keeping me more on track this way.  So this one, maybe I find something that makes sense for me, maybe not.  Working out or working in my garden restores me pretty well.

Morning Pages.  Meant to be three pages of free-writing every morning, sort of a core-dump to get everything out and both clear the head and (I think) prime the pump for writing.  Okay, this one is looking good for me.  But after a little experimentation, I think it's going to be Evening Pages.  See, the biggest issue I have in this area is not starting the day with too many things on my mind, but ending it that way.  Then thinking about them instead of sleeping.  So clearing the head, clearing the slate, getting it out (and maybe making a list for the next day) might help me sleep.  And that would certainly help my creativity.

Now I look at Week One, and the big thing here is Affirmations.  You know, say good things about yourself, and then listen to, the negative voices in your head--what she calls "blurts."  Then crush them.

Here's where it gets really tricky.  Okay, I can't really say "I am a brilliant writer," because that would be pretentious and patently untrue (I know of only a handful of writers I consider "brilliant").  But I can say that I am a darned good writer who writes some good reading.  And I'm not hearing much in the way of blurts.  Oh, there's the "so why aren't you selling more?" kind of thing.  But the answer to that so clearly has nothing to do with me as a writing.  Yeah, I suck at marketing.  Lot to learn there.  But writing?  I'm on it.  I don't mean to imply that I know everything there is to know about writing, just that I'm doing it, and learning every day.

So what the heck is wrong with me?  Why am I not an insecure writer?  And will it last?  Don't get me wrong--I have days when I can't sit down and write, days when I look at what I have written and groan.  But somewhere in the last year or two things have changed.  I'm not groaning "God, I suck as a writer, why am I even trying?"  I'm just groaning because editing is my least favorite part of the job and there's a lot to do.  But more and more I'm looking at my stuff and saying, "yeah, I can do this.  I sat down and wrote my obligatory crappy first draft [thank you Anne Lamott] and now I know how to get to work on making it good."

And more often than not, that's what I do.  And that's why I probably won't go on with the program, though I'm going to read at least one more week's worth.  Feels like jinxing myself when all is going well.

Please don't hate me for it. 

Meanwhile, I'm looking at the usual summer impediments: the kids are or soon will be out of school (one of each), which means I lose my solitary mornings for writing.  Plus, lots of vacation.  Okay, I don't mind about that.  But my challenge this summer is to keep working.  Just that: keep writing, finish the edits on Return to Skunk Corners, and put out that short story each week, at least.  At the same time as I figure out ways to get those teens out of the house (between vacation trips).  If I do all that, I'll be patting myself on the back.

A Is For Alpine is here!  The paperback is now available at Amazon, or order directly from me (use the "Contact me" page) for $8, shipping to US included.


  1. Yes :) This is really, really similar to my first reaction to the book/program. I am uncomfortable with the religious stuff too. My morning pages turned out to be about one page of thinking stuff when I had a free moment during the day. Doing the 'clear the slate' thing before bed sounds great though, especially if it helps sleep!

    There's no reason to question why you are not an insecure writer! If there's no problem then no reason to create any! Sounds like you have your process going well, so no need to mess with that. As they say 'round these parts- if it ain't broke, why fix it?

    I've only done the exercises that I felt like doing (that I felt applied to me- I don't have many blurts, and like you, I have an "artist date" pretty much daily).

    Like most instructional/inspirational books, I've read through it and taken the parts that appealed to me and let the rest go.

    In a couple of days I'll have 5 other humans vying for my attention and time, so I'm doing the vacation dreaming too and plotting how to keep them occupied, happy and keep my own space too.

    Awesome on your book! Looks great! :) Hope you have a fabulous summer!

  2. Lexie--thanks, I like you approach on it. I haven't read the second chapter yet, but I'll look for what I can use. As for the evening pages, well, those aren't working so great, since I usually end up falling into bed, reading for 10 minutes, and going to sleep at the end of the evening push to get everything done. Guess I'll get up and write them if I even have trouble falling asleep :)


We want to hear from you! Tell us your reactions, or whatever's on your mind.