Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Thumbing My Nose at Chaos

I reclaimed my O-Dark Thirty writing routine last month. This means that instead of lounging in bed until the last possible minute, I get up every day at 5:30 to write.

My goal is modest: two pages per day. Most days I write more. Some days I'm lucky to bang out a page. If I don't make my quota, I don't sweat it. Either way I'm moving my story forward.

What makes this routine work?
1. Except for Kirby the hamster, no one else is moving around that time of day which means my writing time is my own.

2. The regular routine keeps my story close enough to the surface that when I'm ready to play, my characters are, too.

3. I live to write and write to live. If I go too long without communing with my characters, they get cranky and I get crabby.

4. Writing every day is my way of thumbing my nose at chaos and keeping the mugwump muzzled.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Earthquakes, Aftershocks and Uninterrupted Writing Time

Somehow, despite all the chaos that is my life these days (ie the issues with E's teeth in January, her hospitalization in February, two IEPs that need re-visioning, etc.) I managed to write 10 pages in 24 hours. Ten!

Nowhere near editor ready, said pages are more in the vein of what Anne Lamott refers to as the "shitty first draft." But here's the thing: those 10 pages represent forward progress, and proof that I can still write.

I've been doubting myself a lot lately. My ability to write. My ability to edit. My ability to be anything other than caregiver and mother.

No surprise where these feelings originated. E's health. It's impacted our family on many levels, and my writing on multiple. But in a strange and twisted way our unpredictable schedule had become predictable.

In a way, it's like we've been the victims of a series of earthquakes. Each time we try to assess our situation in hopes of finding a new sense of normal, another aftershock comes...in the form of a new symptom, doctor, test, or challenge at home or at school.

I'm certain it doesn't help that that in the aftermath of E's hospitalization and all the docs we must now see (she's up to 11 who see her regularly), I'm on point for coordinating and managing E's care. Nor does it help that because of this shift in responsibilities I've experienced first hand the very real, very palpable erosion of my uninterrupted writing time.

In recent weeks, I've been lucky enough to squeeze in a couple hours of writing time every now and again. Sometimes all this means is that I've succeeded in staring at the screen long enough to pluck out a paragraph or two.

I've been trying to honor the process. I've been trying to remind myself that even if all I have time to produce is one lousy paragraph, that lousy paragraph had to be written in order to get to the good stuff.

Those 10 pages I produced earlier this week? They're the good stuff. My next challenge is to figure out what needs to happen in order to write more.