I can’t believe you’re a year old. I remember when I chose your template, when I uploaded your first photo… and look at you now! 66 posts!
As a birthday present for you, the reader, I have posted two of my favourite cartoons on writing. Enjoy!
That’s right. It’s a book. (Fair warning, it’s very different from the movie)
In the book there is a passage about Inigo’s father, Domingo, and the creation of the six finger sword. This is how I feel about writing. This is how most writers feel about writing.
Such a year.
Domingo slept only when he dropped from exhaustion. He ate only when Inigo would force him to. He studied, fretted, complained. He never should have taken the job; it was impossible. The next day he would be flying: he never should have taken the job; it was too simple to be worth his labors. Joy to despair, joy to despair, day to day, hour to hour. Sometimes Inigo would wake to find him weeping: “What is it, Father?” “It is that I cannot do it. I cannot make the sword. I cannot make my hands obey me. I would kill myself except what would you do then?” “Go to sleep, Father.” “No, I don’t need sleep. Failures don’t need sleep. Anyway, I slept yesterday.” “Please, Father, a little nap.” “All right; a few minutes; to keep you from nagging.”
Some nights Inigo would awake to see him dancing. “What is it, Father?” “It is that I have found my mistakes, corrected my misjudgments.” “Then it will be done soon, Father?” “It will be done tomorrow and it will be a miracle.” “You are wonderful, Father.” “I’m more wonderful than wonderful, how dare you insult me.”
But the next night, more tears. “What is it now, Father?” “The sword, the sword, I cannot make the sword.” “But last night, Father, you said you had found your mistakes.” “I was mistaken; tonight I found new ones, worse ones. I am the most wretched of creatures. Say you wouldn’t mind if I killed myself so I could end this existence.” “But I would mind, Father. I love you and I would die if you stopped breathing.” “You don’t really love me; you’re only speaking pity.” “Who would pity the greatest sword maker in the history of the world?” “Thank you, Ingio.” “You’re welcome, Father.” “I love you back, Ingio.” “Sleep, Father.” “Yes. Sleep.”
A whole year of that…
One night Inigo woke to find his father seated. Staring. Calm. Ingio followed the stare. The six-fingered sword was done. Even in the darkness, it glistened.
“At last,” Domingo whispered. He could not take his eyes from the glory of the sword. “After a lifetime. Inigo. I am an artist.”
So am I. So are you.
Dee Tales are whimsical stories inspired by photographs taken with my i-phone. A tiny story for you, a wee sense of accomplishment for me. Enjoy.
The city is crowded. There’s a lot of angry energy floating around. People can’t relax.
“It’s better than yoga!”
“It’s better than meditation!”
It’s a cleanse, really. A washing away of all your negative thoughts, the ones that refused to leave you. You walk into it’s centre, stand in the middle of the light, and when you walk away you’re happy. At peace. The energy it generates is just a happy coincidence. A byproduct.
Your thoughts are powerful.
A lot of writers talk about process. Why? Because figuring out how you write will help you write. If you’re a spontaneous fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants (…I’ve always thought that was a strange expression… ) kind of writer, there’s no use wasting time on an outline. If you’re a nighthawk, there’s no point in getting up at 5am to write.
Some of you already know your process. For those struggling to find the sweet spot – here are a few exercises:
Your story may need time to gestate. Many writers go on a reading or researching binge before sitting down to write. Erin Morgenstern author of The Night Circus has a great blog article on picking up inspiration from unlikely places.
Most of us are either morning people… or not. But do you know when you’re most creative? Try tracking hour by hour how you feel. Are you energetic at 2pm or sluggish? Most of us don’t choose when we write, but for those who do – pin-pointing which times works best will help you be more productive. You’ll also want to find out how much you should write. Can you sit for hours at a time or do you need a series of quick bursts? Do you write every day or do you need to let the material sit?
There are so many ways to begin. A concept, a character, a theme, a place… and where to start? The beginning? The end? There’s no right answer, just what works for you.
Outlining Or Not
If you’re trying to let your book speak to you but it’s not saying anything, try an outline first. Outline not working for you? Toss it. Write from instinct. Kim Doty has a lovely article on Abbot Press about writers being gardeners or architects.
What’s fun about this kind of exploration is that there’s the potential for surprise.
I use to think I could never divide my focus between two projects and that working on one thing at a time was the only way to go. And yet when I sat down to write I would inevitably surf the internet, check my email, check Facebook. After years of being frustrated at my lack of productivity, I tried working on two things at once. Turns out my writing brain is a bit ADD and focuses much better when it has multiple things to do. Now when I write I have two files open at a time.
So. How do you write?