Saturday, September 22, 2012

Examining my own Process

     I have started a process notebook.  On the advice (and assignment) of a novel writing teacher, I have begun to write a daily journal of what I am writing and how I am feeling about it.  I've set myself a goal of five pages a day, and, at the end of my session I plan to collect my thoughts and jot them down.

     This week I was re-writing the third story in my novel of linked stories.  I am sure I generated five new pages, in bits and pieces, but the new production of pages definitely fell off.  Two of the days were holiday--the Jewish New Year--and I didn't write.  That left three days of work.  Well, I finished the story.  I am reasonably happy with it.  I will let it sit for a while and then re-read it to see how it feels.

    This is what I also realized, something I knew but didn't articulate.  I find re-writing a lot easier than producing new material.  My imagination takes off around the scenes I created, and I can open up, enrich and deepen the material I wrote.  But re-writing doesn't substitute for generating pages.  And now I know that every day, even if I am re-working a story or part of the novel, I need to start my day with free-writing new work.  I have to remind myself that I can let those first pages come out as stupidly as they wish.  No one is going to rush out and publish it as it is.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

September Song

     September feels like the real New Year.  The lazy vacation days are over.  School is starting.  The weather is getter cooler and, yes, in my culture it is the New Year, with the high holidays coming sometime in this marvelous month.

    In September I feel like I am coming up from a long, slow swim underwater, taking a deep breath and swimming along with my head bobbing above the waves, looking for the shore.  The shore is where I will put my feet  on the ground and get back on the trail.

     In September I do not make resolutions.  I make to-do lists.  Sometimes my lists read like resolutions: I list things like clean my drawers out, practice my piano, take a walk or a yoga class.    Each day, on my to-do list I have a line of telephone calls to make:  the piano tuner, my dermatologist, my podiatrist.

     In September I start new things.  Maybe because school begins in September I have always begun new projects in the fall.  I pick up a book at a book sale on having beautiful indoor gardens.  I plan our theater subscriptions.  I change my clothes from summer to in-between, meaning more long pants and shirts and fewer shorts and tees.

     But no matter what, my daily to-do list always starts with one imperative.  WRITE.  I am trying to get myself to write a certain number of words or pages each day. And I get great satisfaction from checking each item off my list.  And if I do it every day, I know I will finish my novel of linked short stories.  I did not complete the first draft by Labor Day, as I had promised I would.  But I did make great progress this summer.  And I think I will have it done before the end of the year!