Friday, April 25, 2008

I want to bleed like a stuck pig

There is nothing to writing.
All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
Ernest Hemingway (1899 - 1961)

My other half stumbled upon this cool article on an equally cool website called "37 Days". The site's tag line is: What would you do if you only had 37 days to live? Well, he thought I'd like reading it so he sent me the link. I have to say that just reading this piece gave me goosebumps.

How many people here have experienced this? How many excuses do you give yourself and others not to do something? We keep postponing. Procrastinating. Thinking, not doing. I know I've done it at some point in my life, and I also know you've done it too.

Artists and writers are the worst lot - at least until they realize, as the article says, that writing is a PRACTICE, not merely an art! This is an undeniable truth. It's something you do every day, in the same way that you wake up and go to sleep and do everything in between. Many writers recognize this - those are the successful ones, or the ones that will eventually become successful. Others are content to sit on the sidelines, although they don't realize it. For a long time they tell themselves tons of things just so they don't write. I've been through that phase a LONG time ago. Here are some excuses we tend to use...

I need to focus on my day job because I gotta pay the bills; I'm just too busy today, my book's gonna have to take the back seat; I'm so tired today, I'll just pick up tomorrow; one of my buddies needs my help, my writing can wait; I have errands to do, can't sit by my computer all day; it's too inconvenient to write on a piece of paper or in a journal when I'm out and about, I prefer my computer so I wait till I get home (then I forget my thoughts and ideas); If I schedule writing time, I don't think I'll be inspired...inspiration is something that comes on impulse and can't be "summoned", right? (or some such esoteric crap about writing); it's my birthday today, I'm not supposed to work, so I'll just sit and do nothing; my family wants ALL my attention, where does the time go?; MUST clean up this house, no time for anything else; I take all day helping my kids with homework... or the worst one, horror of horrors, the perverted murderer of muse that lurks in many aspiring writers' hearts: I'm just not good enough yet (or someone told me some shit along those lines, or laughed at my writing style), I need to LEARN how to write first.

So I say - when is writing supposed to be perfect? Isn't it supposed to be, most of all, an expression of our innermost thoughts and feelings? Recently I was contacted for professional editing services by a gentleman who wrote a 540 page book. He's been called a crappy writer, well, he's somewhat right and he knows it... but he wrote the damn book! He called me and laughed about it. I told him I admired him and loved his idea. There's a big movie studio in California that's interested in getting a script done if the book is given a good facelift. My job, as his editor, is to help him get the manuscript "in shape". Geez...this guy didn't even intend to be a writer, and already he's being romanced with movie deals and what not! Did I feel a tad jealous or what? Not really, just truly pleased to meet someone like him. So here's the problem this guy didn't have. He didn't sit there worrying about whether he could write or not. He just sat down and wrote. And if you think that he may have much more time on his hands than you do, let me tell you this guy has wife, a demanding business, five kids and I don't know how many grandchildren. So think again. The great thing about him: HE MADE NO EXCUSES.

So I'm happy that I've learned to take my "muse saboteurs" and throw them out the friggin' window. I still want to work on giving more time to writing my own stories, but one must start from somewhere. I make it a point to give MY inspiration at least a portion of the attention it deserves, each day. This month, I sent out my manuscript to agents, participated in a critique workshop, wrote a short story (approx. 3k) and submitted it to a competition, added 5k to one novel, 2+k on another novel, and did some historical research. It may not be much, because I have a freelance writing and editing business I must keep up until I get richer than sin or at least, comfortable enough to keep only one client: myself. But in any case, what I've done this month is way more than I'd do if I just sat down and worried/ whined about how busy I am (my biz takes up about 10 hours a day or more sometimes).

Every writer should give themselves an accounting of what they do each day, each week, each month, to benefit their craft. Just thinking about it and taking no action - you end up having nada, and may as well just throw in the towel. Write one page a day, and you'll have a full length novel in a year. Two pages, and you have two. Think like this, and you'll get somewhere, sometime.

As for moi, if I had my rathers: if writing is all about sitting and opening my vein, I just want to bleed till I die.

~ Angela Guillaume ~
"Breathtaking Sensual Romance"
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"Mile High to Heaven"--"Mr. & Mrs. Foster"--Coming Soon at Whiskey Creek Press