Saturday, March 01, 2014
This week I registered for the Midwest Writer's Workshop in July, which includes a manuscript critique, a pitch session with an agent, and a query letter review. Each of these is about 3 minutes long, so I don't expect to stress about it. I am feeling excited because I don't actually have a manuscript, query letter or pitch as of this moment. I have a manuscript begun, a query letter from my last novel, and a plan to Google what a pitch session is. But, I need this like I need water and chocolate: external, structured, kick-in-the-butt. I have paid for the conference, I made hotel reservations, I took the days off work. So now, assuming I get to my writing room three weekends out of four, I have a total of about 36 hours to achieve these goals. Not much. Do I start polishing the five chapters I have completed? Do I work on a synopsis (part of the ms review) and try to plan out my story? Do I go back and review the dreaded query letter that gained me 132 or so rejections last time around? Do I practice my pitch to my dog Molly?
What I need to do is first things first. And first things, at least the next 5 or 6 weekends, is going to be going full-steam on my story. I have no hope of creating a synopsis or a pitch until I get the story arc figured out. Then I can try for a synopsis, and then start polishing, the first five pages, which is actually the limit to what they will critique.
In any case, my blood pressure is up even though I'm sitting on a comfy bed with a velour throw and my laptop actually in my lap. I'm primed for writing. Now, to keep that excitement flowing. Note to self: Blog about this next weekend....How to keep the fire burning. And the following week...Elizabeth Berg.
In January I wrote three blog posts and three chapters in my Work-in-progress on three consecutive Saturdays. Then in three blinks of an eye I realize I have missed the last two weekends completely. One blog post and zero chapters so far in February. This proves something that we all know, action begets action. Inaction begets inaction. My momentum was interrupted and my lofty plans slid into some closet in my brain just that quickly.
My problem is that Saturdays and Sundays are so precious. I work five days a week like many people, Monday through Friday. Dinners are late, work runs over, church and kid activities fill the evenings. You know the drill. So on Saturday I have ten or fifteen things crowding into my brain for attention. Groceries? Video games? Lounging? Dishes, laundry, taxes, piles of mail, someone's birthday, a new flip house, housecleaning, gardening, social plans, baking, sleep, movies, reading books, visiting with family, church, and? And writing.
I know when I'm thinking clearly that if I could pick a vocation that feels like I belong in it, it is writing. And when I'm thinking clearly I make promises to myself and others that I will place priority on my writing time. All the other things can wait. But regardless, if I leave a sink of dirty dishes or pass up a baby shower to go write, I do not feel good.
And when I'm thinking clearly, I know that I just have to do it. Just go in my writing room and write during my office hours and all the other stuff will be waiting when I come out. It is not so much hard to follow my own advice here, as it is easy to not follow it. Swirly-mind is what I call it. All the demands and needs are just there above my head, swirling in a soup of obligation and responsibility. Even writing is in the soup now.
My password right now is one that makes the annoying song pop into my head "Put one foot in front of the other..." But I do that on purpose. I use my password more than 21 times a day, which is the number of times the adult brain is supposed to need to 'get' something. So I keep reminding myself to stop looking at the soup. Stop looking up and instead look down. At my feet. And put one foot forward. One blog post. One batch of cupcakes. One clean toilet. That is the only way I've found to turn swirly-mind into productive human being. And it works! Well, some of the time anyway. Some days the swirl hypnotizes me with the steady beat of 'Pick me. Pick me.' But today? I looked down.