I’m In Love and Oh-So-Happy

I’ve had Gemma floating around in my head for about two years. The first scene has always been there. I love the first scene. It’s fun and sad and definitely has tension. But I’ve been stuck: what comes after the first scene? I couldn’t get a firm handle on that. Hell, I couldn’t even get a gelatinous wiggle. The protagonist presented herself fully formed, which is always helpful. And I knew it was about living up to potential, and I knew it was about conquering fear, and of course I knew, since it’s me, the emotional content has to be wrapped in lightness rather than darkness. So that’s a lot of knowing. There’s clearly a lot of opportunity, a lot of ways to take a story like this. But none of them worked. This story turned up its nose at every possible vision I offered. 
     And that resulted in a very solid inability to write. 
     Then one night over pancakes (really, breakfast foods are miraculous on so many levels) with a friend, the solution came to me. [Side note to Natalie, maybe that’s what was ‘magic’: pancakes!]
     Now I’m in the throes of new love: researching 1940 Los Angeles and travel in the ‘50s, Woodstock, real estate in Santa Barbara in 1970; making up a scandalous past that is worthy of my favorite writerly quote (“Laughs, sex scenes, detailed dinner menus, clever wordplay and enough old-fashioned narrative to blacken one’s fingers through vigorous page turning…”); and figuring out how to write two distinct but equally fantastic women – one comfortable in her skin from the time she could crawl, the other rediscovering the self that would have and should have been if not for some misdirection caused by others’ actions. This is pure joy, this sort of writing, the discovery, the fun, the “Oh my god where did that come from I love it!” All writing should be like this. I know it’s not going to be, I know that at some point I’ll be in that part where I feel like my writer brain is immersed in concrete and it’s hardening fast, but for now I’m holding onto the energy that is fueled by writing joy and I’m flying through the possibilities at the speed of light.
     Damn, but I love new love.

Less Guilt, More Fun

One of the things I like most about our writers group, the Saturday Writers, is that we are each at different stages with our writing. And because of that we each bring unique insights to the group.

For me, I’m still in the hobby stage of writing. Writing has been with me for many years, but it is still a dream, not a goal. I dabble in it, I don’t seriously pursue it. And knowing that about myself I can throw off the guilt that we women take on too easily.

No “I should be writing more.” No blame, no guilt trips. Just writing for fun. Writing for the sake of writing. Because I want to work on a story, not because I have to. And that is an okay place to be. When I’m ready to make writing a bigger part of my life, it will be there.

But like any good hobby, I spend a lot of time thinking about writing and studying books on writing. If I pack enough writing knowledge into my brain, then when writing takes center stage in my life, all that learning will be there, ready to use.

The book I’m currently reading is One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers by Gail Sher. I really like her four truths. They are:

  1. Writers write.
  2. Writing is a process.
  3. You don’t know what your writing will be until the end of the process.
  4. If writing is your practice, the only way to fail is to not write.

I understand #2. After all this study and reading on writing, I understand that writing is a process. You don’t just flip a switch and instantly become a bestseller. It takes time and effort, like any occupation or hobby.

#3 also makes sense. You have to finish the story to see what it actually becomes. It certainly never looks like the story I had in my mind when I started. But if it bears some resemblance, I’m okay with that.

#1 and #4 are my sticking points. I don’t have the daily practice of writing. When I did write daily, even just in a journal, I found that my “official” writing, whatever story I was working on, came out so much easier. So my challenge is to get back into the daily habit. Because I want to work on my story daily, not because I have to. Less guilt, more fun, more writing.

Where are you at on your writing path?