2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 260 books.
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On the Randomness of Writing…

So things have been going swimmingly lately (to borrow one of Step-Daughter’s favorite words and the only adverb she or her brother ever use when we play Mad Libs), writing-wise. Hooray for me. Seriously. I finally seem to have hit some sort of stride – I am focusing on ONE concept, although, teehee, the short-attention-span thing is still in great shape, because while I can honestly say that I am working on one storyline, I’m occasionally taking time out of the major Work In Progress to write bits of the two sequels I already have planned. And yes, I do fully grasp the ridiculosity (Jillism!) of working on multiple sequels to an as-yet unfinished book. Ah, the paradoxical nonsense that is my life…

In thinking about that (and updating Writing Buddy on my WIP concept and progress to-date), I started thinking about the randomness of writing. I have spent the past year writing on and off – blog stuff and book reviews, mostly, it seems, with occasional productive phases on the short-story front and bursts of activity on the myriad collection of story/novel ideas I’ve been collecting for the year or so before I started actually putting pen (keyboard) to paper (screen). Net result: 11 WIP (seriously) of what I anticipate will be novel/novella length and 20 short stories (about 3/4 of which have appeared on my blog – or as guest posts on someone else’s). Nearly all of these things are in what I would call the brain-dump stage – only 2 (and soon to be 2 more) of the stories are what I’d consider “done”.

That’s great, don’t get me wrong. I’m pleased as punch that I have such a collection of stuff to work with. I used to complain about so many WIP, but I guess it’s actually not a bad thing that I have that many ideas that are fleshed out enough that I know they have novel/novella potential. There are also still a slew of ideas I really like that haven’t made it past the brief-blurb phase – so apparently, coming up with ideas isn’t my problem. But I knew that already – as did you, if you’ve been paying attention (and by “paying attention” of course I mean “listening to me whine about my inability to finish things”).

It’s not a bad turnout for a year’s work, it’s really not. The funny thing though – if you tracked when I wrote all of those things, I bet you’d find that there’s not really a year’s work there – it’s probably more like a handful of months. Let’s use this last month as an example – it’s not a typical example, even for illustrative purposes, but it’ll make my point very nicely. In the past 30 days – March 19 – April 17 (again, slack please, I’m painting a picture here, and the point is about time not calendar days, so I’m going with the time-frame and not an actual month) I have edited and/or written 47,406 words of fiction, completely finalized 2 shorts (and journal-submitted 1) and have 2 more in the final final review stage. That’s a fairly impressive burst of productivity for most people I think – incredible for me, considering that I averaged a whisper over 15,600 words per month in the past year.

Wow, she said.

This is how it’s always been with me though – and yes, I know “always” sounds funny for a woman who’s only been writing for a year. But still. In the past year my monthly writing totals have ranged from 0 (December – the month of my first having-a-family-of-my-own Christmas, the month we bought our new house, the month we moved two kids and two households into said new house) to almost 37,000. And the average was 15,600. So I write in spurts. Ridiculous, inexplicable, unpredictable spurts.

This is lovely on one hand – when inspiration hits, I sit and write and write and things go great and everything is sunshine and roses. On the other, not so much. On the other hand, very often there is/has been nothing in my brain worth repeating let alone writing (typing). FRUSTRATING MUCH?!

Now, as I pointed out at the beginning, things have been going dreadfully, fearfully well lately. This is great – or at least, it should be. But I find myself constantly worried that (to sound woefully pretentious) the muse is going to leave. If I have a day in which I don’t want to write, or find myself looking for every single other possible thing to do before writing – days like today, actually – in which I write spare blog posts, pay bills, play Fishdom (horrifically addictive match-3 game that is mind-numbing but oddly soothing at the same time), respond to emails, organize my desk, even sometimes resort to household chores, well, then I start to panic. I used to chalk this up to “ah, well, the muse isn’t here today, better do something else – like read or take a bubble bath or have lunch with The Best Friend” and not give it a thought. But then the muse stuck around for a while, and now I’m finding that I like having him/her here – and am terrified that he/she will leave for good if I don’t hold her hand every single day.

Of course, the vastly irritating point is that inspiration isn’t here every day. Some days aren’t good writing days. I know a lot of *real* authors talk about writing-as-work – and for many I’m sure it is. The kind of work that you just have to make yourself do – “write the words today, you can always edit them away” and all that. But I got into writing because I didn’t want another widget-making (or, more appropriately, analyzing) job – I wanted something that I enjoyed. If I’m going to do something I don’t like, I am going to do it in a paid-work context, thank you very much. So I’ve always been okay with the knowledge that I probably wouldn’t write every minute of every eight-hour day.

But I don’t know if the muse is okay with that too.

Maybe the only reason it’s going well lately is that I’ve been forcing myself to sit here, Butt in Chair, every day. Maybe he/she is one of those writing-as-work people – knowing my luck, I would get stuck with such a muse (in my experience the universe often delights in this type of semi-irony). So here I am, feeling like I’m spinning my wheels by writing, but worried that they’ll lock right up if I don’t. A bit of a pickle, no? I’m trying to solve it with this blog post – hoping it’ll spur me on to want to get back to it, to another random burst of creativity. I’m almost done though (I think – I never plan my posts, they meander about – kind of like my stories, teehee), and not exactly feeling it. Ugh. I’d better start though – the only other thing left to do is laundry – and anything beats laundry…

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3 comments to On the Randomness of Writing…

  • Tracy Brown

    Stop worrying! Be like Yoda. Or, the Dalai Lama. Or something.

    Seriously, don’t worry that “it” will leave. Write like “it” will always be there. You’ll have streaks of awesomeness, and valleys of “I sucketh.”

    I’m in awe of your multiple WIPs! Seriously! I become so narrowly focused, my fear is that I won’t get something down in time to catch some of the muse’s sparkly dust.

    At the end of the day, you know what keeps the muse around: BIC. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    PS: I figure with MY writing luck, my muse is like Carol Kane in the movie “Scrooged.”

  • Tracy Brown

    Oh wait, forgot this link…

    Specifically Carol Kane here:

    http://youtu.be/BRQMlXh4f-M

  • Aww – you always make me feel so fabulous, well done TB! I will try to stop worrying – it’s a well-ingrained trait though, so I make no promises.

    And if you have to have a muse, you can SO do worse than Carol Kane – long live Simka!! Seriously, I love her – and no, I don’t think you really want her Scrooged-ness as your muse, but you’d do well with her regular-ness (or, more specifically, her Princess Bride-ness, which is one of my favorite versions of her)… Teehee.

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