Time to Write

To open my mac now, with the sounds of playing children and laughing families mingling with the smells of barbecue and wood burning stoves … all of it wafting through my window, well it feels so weird.  “Time to write” – what a foreign concept.

Today and tomorrow I have some “free” time to get some writing done.  Of course, for me, that’s not the best time to write.  Usually writing flows from my fingertips, like lightning rays from a super villain, on days when I don’t have much time to write.  Usually writing happens during hours when I should be doing something else entirely, or sleeping.

What is my purpose with the writing of this post?  Am I practicing my craft, thereby loosening the grip of the several stories and projects I’ve lined up?  Practicing means spending time describing the sensory aspects around me without using too many words and boring the reader.  It also means putting aside my ideas, for the moment, on Molly Malone and her present day counterpart – Malone, in my series Vantage Point.  It means my deeper discovery of Hemingway will have to be delayed yet another week.  And that alternate universe/time traveling cave dweller splashing around in the stream will have to keep splashing too.

I could tuck my macbook under my arm and walk up the road to the little cemetery at the top of the hill.  It’s peaceful up there.  I don’t think anyone would bother me, and I could sit next to an Edward or Meredith and presume to know their life story as I have a make-believe conversation with their tombstone.

The weather is beautiful outside.  I could get out in it somewhere, hide myself from on-lookers, and DESCRIBE.  How many ways can I say that birds are chirping and crickets are too?  Sunlight sparkles off the shimmering leaves like that sequined dress I would never be caught dead in?  Late blooming lawn mowers push their instruments in the distance, coming and going, coming and going, probably wishing they’d done this yesterday.

The Pines, Firs, and Cedars surround the town like a cocoon and keep the outside wind from messing up our hair.  I miss the Pacific Madrones.  Their twisty persistence as they reach toward the sunlight, and their scarred and peeling bark-skin draws me to them like a fellow survivor.  If I were a tree, I’d be a Madrone.

I’m sure somewhere, people are playing baseball on a day like today.  My sleepiness tries to lull me; when it fails, it tempts me with the “stupid box” or a video game.  My weapons are coffee and a wet head.  The shower felt great.  I washed off a grunge of depression and heaviness and lathered my terrible haircut with smell-good bath and body products.

Now where was I heading with this?  Oh right, purpose.  Practicing descriptive language, to show and not tell in my writing?  Or should I swing some poetry around like a bad-ass and drop lines like a rap-star?  I don’t really need practice there.  Poets, although witty, deep, moving, or disturbing … don’t make much money at it.  I’ll post more poetry because I breath.  But if I really want to write for a living, I need to focus on areas of improvement.  There’s so many.

1. Practice shorter sentence structure.
2. Practice showing and not telling.
3. Further increase vocabulary to allow better #1 and #2.
4. Finish something.

Finishing something might be the most difficult, since I’m a perfectionist.  I find myself revisiting old posts and editing spelling and grammar errors all the time.  I do that more often than researching my novel idea with Molly or my Hemingway project.  Of course, I’d like to include much more on that list.

5. Practice different voices in writing.
6. Have some damn patience.

Okay, now it’s time to write.  Stop messing around and sloshing all matter of unrelated, disconnected ideas and offerings onto the screen.  Focus.  Work on the list.  Are you serious about writing or not?  You have time to write, so it’s time to write!

I realize this post feels much like a wrap up TV show, where they pull together cuts from shows already done throughout the season to string together another show for the coffers.  But in actuality, adding the links was an afterthought to provide a reference point for those readers that want it.  If you’re a writer, I hope you can relate to some of what I’ve written and, if so, please comment and tell me about your own experiences.

16 thoughts on “Time to Write

  1. I found your post very intriguing. I so relate to the getting ready to write experience! Over the years I’ve found various tricks to get into the zone and turn off the ‘critical voice’. As I write this comment the image of a diver springs to mind. Diving down into the depths is an obvious analogy, but where things get really interesting is the writing that happens when you’re trying to swim back to the surface and you encounter the ‘bends’. At times, I’ve found that during the ‘bends’ phase is when the characters start to write themselves!! Hope this makes sense? Blessings to you and I’m excited to follow your creative journey. Michele

  2. Michele,

    Thanks for this wonderful imagery and advice. It does make sense. I long for the day when I will be able to devote myself wholeheartedly to writing, rather than something I get to do on evenings and weekends.

    Thank-you for following. Keep posting beautiful things!

  3. This was especially interesting since I just read an article on Kafka’s writing habits. He only wrote for an hour or so a day. One of the greatest writers in the world and he procrastinated big time. Anyway, fantastic post. Enjoyed it immensely. Best, Amarie

  4. Interesting list. Sums up a lot of what I need to do to improve.

    I’d go to the park nearby to write, but it’s too hot out these days, and there are far too many children around. I couldn’t concentrate. What I need is a nice, peaceful place with ample shade and a cool breeze. Japan in summer doesn’t have that. Just heat and humidity.

  5. I agree with all points except maybe #1 – shorter isn’t always better. Tighter, yes, but there’s nothing wrong with a longer, more intricate sentence when it feels right. Even Hemingway, Mr. Brevity himself, wrote some beautifully long sentences every now and then. Cormac McCarthy? He can fill a page with barely a pause, and you’ll reread it not because you misunderstood but because you just can’t believe he did it so well.

    • Check! I agree about Hemingway. Not so much regarding McCarthy. Although I am drawn to his writing for reasons that would fill several pages, his structure (or rather lack thereof) often drives me batty. I threw The Road across the room once and didn’t open it again for a week I was so frustrated. One definitely has to be well rested and alert before cracking open one of his treasures.

  6. Ha! I haven’t read The Road, but the passage in Blood Meridian about the Comanche attack leaves me in awe:

    “A legion of horribles, hundreds in number, half naked or clad in costumes attic or biblical or wardrobed out of a fevered dream with the skins of animals and silk finery and pieces of uniform still tracked with the blood of prior owners, coats of slain dragoons, frogged and braided cavalry jackets, one in a stovepipe hat and one with an umbrella and one in white stockings and a bloodstained wedding veil and some in headgear or cranefeathers or rawhide helmets that bore the horns of bull or buffalo and one in a pigeontailed coat worn backwards and otherwise naked and one in the armor of a Spanish conquistador, the breastplate and pauldrons deeply dented with old blows of mace or sabre done in another country by men whose very bones were dust and many with their braids spliced up with the hair of other beasts until they trailed upon the ground and their horses’ ears and tails worked with bits of brightly colored cloth and one whose horse’s whole head was painted crimson red and all the horsemen’s faces gaudy and grotesque with daubings like a company of mounted clowns, death hilarious, all howling in a barbarous tongue and riding down upon them like a horde from a hell more horrible yet than the brimstone land of Christian reckoning, screeching and yammering and clothed in smoke like those vaporous beings in regions beyond right knowing where the eye wanders and the lip jerks and drools.”

  7. I don’t disagree he’s a master. It’s as if he wants you to be imprisoned in his sentence, unable to look away without placing a finger or a mental bookmark where you left off, knowing even then you will have to nearly start over just to get back in rhythm in order to understand the scene thoroughly. It’s great if you’re into sentence bondage. 😉

  8. I relate! Very interesting and I love your imagery! My “place” is my living room. I stare out the window at the world outside, and play with my imaginary friends. They show me what to write. Too mental? It’s just my process. 🙂


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