If we were having coffee, I would offer you some pumpkin bread. It’s not homemade — it’s from the bakery at my local grocery store, but it’s pretty good. I would tell you that I also bought some Fig Newtons, because I’ve been thinking about my grandmother. She always had Fig Newtons. She worked in a hospital, and would bring home little packages of Fig Newtons, Keebler cookies, and juices from the hospital kitchen. I think there was a rule about stuff being almost expired, so the dietary staff gave a lot away to the nurses.You can have some Fig Newtons if you like, but don’t eat them all, because I’m saving some for my sister.
I would tell you that I’m re-reading Writing Down The Bones. It’s one of a very small handful of writing books I value. I first read it when I was 16, doing summer courses at the University of NH. I’m amused by how much I’d internalized and forgotten where it came from, particularly the mindset of this passage:
DON’T WORRY ABOUT your talent or capability: that will grow as you practice. Katagiri Roshi said, “Capability is like a water table below the surface of earth.” No one owns it, but you can tap it. You tap it with your effort and it will come through you. So just practice writing, and when you learn to trust your voice, direct it. If you want to write a novel, write a novel. If it’s essays you want or short stories, write them. In the process of writing them, you will learn how. You can have the confidence that you will gradually acquire the technique and craft you need.
Instead people often begin writing from a poverty mentality. They are empty and they run to teachers and classes to learn about writing. We learn writing by doing it. That simple. We don’t learn by going outside ourselves to authorities we think know about it.
At this point in my career I think it’s a bit narrow–you can learn from others, and by reading and studying their work–but the mindset that the ability to write comes from practice, not from research or study or the magic of talent bestowed by the gods, is something that’s informed my whole existence. I don’t remember if I learned it from this book or if the book just gave me words to express what I was already doing.
If we were having coffee, eventually, I would give up trying to make incidental conversations, because I’m in the middle of a writing project, and if you know me well enough to be having coffee with me, you know that I just don’t care about much else when writing. If you are one of those kind of friends who’s willing to put up with me rambling about my writing, I would tell you that my nano project is going well. My goal is to blog through a year of Noah’s life. I’ve already started, so I guess that makes me a nano rebel, but whatever. I don’t see the point in chomping at the bit for three weeks when I have stuff to say now.
I would tell you that my inner workaholic and I are coming to terms with each other. I am, to say the least, goal driven. If you put a goal in front of me, I get tunnel vision and will not stop until I achieve it. Tangible goals, like “50k words” “fix this problem” or anything that involves having a THING to show for my efforts tend to override any interpersonal goals like “make new friends” “have conversations” “take a shower.” I go a little bananas about getting my projects done, will view pretty much everything else (such as human contact) as an annoying distraction, and generally drop off the face of the earth.
My whole reason for deciding to do Nano know this year was to make new writing friends and socialize with the ones I have. I spent some time on the Nano forums, but Inner Workaholic couldn’t stand them. They’re huge time suck and that created a lot of anxiety for her. So I compromised by making a few new Nano buddies on Facebook this week. I’ve also made a concerted effort to comment on posts from bloggers I know doing Nano and try to keep up with their progress.
I’m writing this post instead of devoting my writing time tonight to killing another few 1000 words.
I’ve still successfully blogged 5 months of Noah’s posts, set up his A to Z theme, and filled in lots of backstory elements I’d been missing.
Noah has this very interesting series of posts he does on Tuesdays/Wednesdays where he talks about cross world culture and mythological figures and stuff, and he likes to do a couple of other weekly things, but there’s a running problem where he gets confused about what day of the week it is because Synn has an 8 day week.
I keep being surprised by all these different interests he has or little things he wants that it hasn’t occurred to anybody (me) that he might enjoy.: So far the whole experiment has been pretty useful that way. I feel like he and Keith both benefit from time with their parents, but I don’t want to invent problems or push “you need to work on Issue X today.” This has been giving me a better idea what’s on his mind and how to approach it without putting him off. I thought he’d just answer some questions for a while and then lose interest, but he’s come up with all kinds of content ideas. He must be my Inner Blogger.
He and I are both a little bored with the original question and answer format of the blog, so he’s experimenting with freewriting now. It’s a challenge for me to free-write in the voice of a young character like this, but I think it will be good for me.
Is a look at my project targets/word count to date, if anyone’s interested. (This is why I don’t do word-count races…)