four children + green dreams + recipes + story writing + running wild + (sanity) = where you'll find me
Friday, September 9, 2011
Is patience its own reward?
This morning it was sun hats. It had to be something. Fooey couldn't find hers, last minute, of course, and left wearing an old one and not very happy. Not the best start to her walk, but hopefully being outside in the bright fall sunshine quickly cheered her up.
I've been up since 5:15am, swam laps for an hour, came home to get kids organized and fed, and worked on a couple of music-related projects with the kids. AppleApple is learning "Across the Universe" for her Singer's Theatre audition (her choice; and a tough tune to perfect. She amazes me with her patience and not just willingness, but eagerness, to take suggestions from me in her efforts to improve). And Albus practiced piano before school, too. (This year, we've agreed that he earns a star sticker for every "good" practice, and when he has 100 stars, he gets a reward; likely Lego-related. The girls can earn stickers too. Will this last? It may. He's highly motivated by rewards and by money. Apparently the lad takes after his dad, which probably means he'll go far, whether or not he ever learns to write neatly).
I can't write neatly either, come to think of it. Thank heavens I learned to type at an early age. It comes in handy, being able to spit words as quickly as thought.
On a dimly related topic, I'm considering a different writing strategy this fall. Because I've spent years working on the same material, and crafting and re-crafting it, it's daunting to leap into something entirely fresh and new, with brand-new characters who have brand-new stories to tell. Daunting, but exciting, too. In the past, I've never written for length or volume. My style is fairly compressed. But for this project, I'm considering tracking my words-per-day, and writing lavishly, spilling words, aiming in my first draft to give ample voice to characters within a fairly tight and dedicated plotline. My role-model for this project is Kate Atkinson's Started Early, Took My Dog. In other words, mystery, dark pasts, multiple perspectives.
I'm calling it The Swimmer.
Yesterday evening, while running, I had a vision: a shelf of pretty paperbacks, all different, with my name on the spines. I've been thinking of myself as a book-a-decade writer, ie. someone unable to produce excellent work quickly, someone who gestates stories very very slowly. And I'm not afraid of the potential slowness of the process, either; I'm a fan of patience, and patience rewarded. But here's the thing: I've also never had the chance to work as many hours a week as I do this year, and in years to come the hours will grow. What if I put my head down and work the way I've worked at becoming triathlon-ready? It was thrilling to let myself imagine creating a variety of books, to chase down the ideas floating around my brain, to gather and bring them to coherence. I may be pursuing a career in a dying industry, but I refuse to believe it. Go read a book, any book, and you'll remember what you're missing out on as you surf the web late at night.
And with those thoughts, I'll begin today's writing day, trying to remember to sit up straight, not to slouch or twist in my ergnomically-sound chair, and to get up and take regular rest breaks. I'm also turning off my email for chunks of time throughout the day. No distractions.
Oh, and swimming and running are just the best times for thinking about my characters. And on the flip side, thinking about my characters makes swimming and running easier because time just slides by.
I'm mother of four, writer, dreamer, planner, runner, photographer, taking time for a cup of coffee in front of this computer screen. My days are full, yet I keep asking: how can I fill them just a little bit more
-- with depth, with care, with pleasure.