Sunday, November 7, 2010

Falling Back

If you allow me to slip into "teacher mode" for a moment, let's have a show of hands.  How many here are participating in National Novel Writing Month?  Good luck, and happy writing to all!

I did consider signing up this year -- for all of two minutes.  Who am I kidding?  My writing ADD is at least as bad as my reading ADD.  Just as I tend to read a dozen books simultaneously, I am working on at least half a dozen writing projects at once.  In fact, I am finally discovering my natural pattern, and I can't say it pleases me. My habit is to complete a draft through chapter three, and then...  I send it off to my agent; he reads it, offers notes, and I revise; then he says he is sending out the proposal and the chapters to a variety of publishers, and then I never hear from anyone again.  Does this sound familiar to a single one of you? 

I suspect that the "real writer" in me should be so compelled by my characters that I absolutely must, must finish a draft.  On the other hand, I have other characters and stories clamoring loudly to be told, and extremely limited "spare" time in which to do so.  Do I finish a draft that apparently has little prospect of being sold?  (Especially if my agent is not actually sending it out!)  Or do I move on to the next one?  What would you do?

To illustrate my dilemma more clearly, these were my obligations of the past week:
1) Write outlines for two 60-minute TV shows (20 pages each) with two days spent in meetings discussing said shows.
2) Entertain my five-year-old, who had no school on two days this week.  (I have discovered that each week seems to bring at least one day on which one child has no school.)
3) Grade definition essays for my community college class -- for which, by the way, I spend more time driving to and fro than I do actually teaching.
4) Grade annotated bibliographies for my online class and moderate the week's discussion.
5) Write an article for a local publication.

Like sands through the hourglass...
I'm sure many of you can relate to the feeling of being generally overwhelmed.  (We Teaching Authors are hyphenate multi-taskers by definition, after all.)

In lieu of enrolling in NaNoWriMo, I signed up at to receive "gentle reminders" of encouragment toward the simple goal of writing one page a day.  I have yet to post a page.  (DAYS OF OUR LIVES, alas, does not count.)

Meanwhile, my Gruve exercise monitor has been blinking at me, telling me I have failed to have a "green day" (adequate calories burned) all week. 

I was exceedingly happy to crack open a book last night in bed, making the absolute most of my extra hour (until my five-year-old threw up in her bed, anyway). 

Today I hope to spend a few minutes with my adult mystery novel (!).  Small steps, baby!

Last weekend at church, my daughter almost poked out my son's eyes with a pencil in the middle of the Transubstantiation.  This week, a kind stranger from across the sanctuary came up to me and said, "I know you don't know me, but would your kids like to sit with ours?"  Then the priest went on to deliver one of those homilies that I desperately needed to hear today.  His advice, in a nutshell:

1) Live deliberately.
2) Live authentically.
3) Live as a brother or sister of the world.
4) Live fully in moment.

It occurs to me that substituting the word 'write' for 'live' in all these cases also works brilliantly.
Wishing everyone lots of good living and writing! -- Jeanne Marie


Martha W. said...

Thought you'd like these quotes on writing from several C.S. Lewis letters: "Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing. Ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago." " Work' of this kind, though it worries and tortures us, tho' we get sick of it and dissatisfied with it and angry, after all it is the greatest pleasure in life--there is nothing like it." (Gormley, Beatrice. C.S. Lewis: The Man behind Narnia. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1998, p.41--by the way, this children's biography is a quick look into an intriguing writer's life.)

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Is that you, Mrs. Weingarten? Thank you for the inspiration (as always)!

edgar said...

I also read at least 5 books all at the same time.
Why do you read so many books at the same time?
I want to learn some other reasons other than my own.

At the present time I'm following the Artist Way's morning pages writing exercise -writing 3 pages a day.

Carmela Martino said...

Jeanne Marie,
You're doing lots of writing--doesn't matter that it's not for a novel. In fact, I'm amazed you get as much done as you do given all your commitments.

Jeanne Marie Grunwell Ford said...

Edgar, I'm not quite sure why I read so many books at once. I'm also the person who watches TV while reading while typing while eating. Do you have any sense as to why you do it? Congrats on following The Artist's Way. Three pages per day is about the perfect goal for me.

Carmela, thanks for the encouragement. I know it's good that I'm writing, but it's frustrating that I'm not making it a priority to write what I want to write!