I’ve been playing hooky
And seeking out beauty
That comes this time of year
While running after cuties
Monday, February 20, 2012
The Art of Procrastination
Yes, I used two, count them, TWO, punctuation marks because my situation is a question and an exclamatory. Read onto find out why.
If you’re a reader of this blog, know me personally, or even just hear about me from someone else, you probably know I’m a writer. People have paid me for my words, though not as often as I’d like, and my words have been read by possibly hundreds of thousands of people. (One of my articles appeared in a magazine with a circulation of over 500,000.)
And if you’ve been in contact with me in recent years, you’ve probably heard I’m working on a novel. My WIP. Corroded. My first long-term project in over a decade. It’s been slow, more often than not unsteady, progress.
Sure, I’ve got a list of prime excuses for being too busy to write, but the fact is, I could write a lot more than I do. I’m a procrastinator when it comes to things that make me nervous. Nervous energy and me are first cousins. I pace, which can be good because when I sit down, there are kids crawling on me within seconds. Typing with a kid hanging on your shoulders is difficult. Hand writing impossible. It makes me want Nathaniel Hawthorne’s desk in the third story writing tower he had built over his home in Concord. Besides being a floor above the noise of his household, he had a custom standing height desk. (Which is the perfect height for me—had a lovely daydream while standing at his desk and looking out on the forested hillside when I visited Wayside.) He stood while writing, so I’m thinking he was a pacer, too.
This past week I’ve been procrastinating my writing because I received an answer to my prayers—a literary dream come true. And that dream turned reality has caused anxiety.
A month ago there was a terrible tornado in Joplin, Mo. As with the response from the deadly tornadoes in northern Alabama not long before, several authors stepped up to personally donate money as well as hold fundraisers for relief efforts. One of my literary heroes, Laurie Halse Anderson, decided to give of herself to help the Joplin area.
Laurie Halse Anderson! If her name sounds familiar it’s because she’s one of the biggest young adult authors of the last decade (though she writers for younger readers, too.) Heard a bunch of smack talked about YA books in the press lately or about books being banned in school libraries? Read any blogs/articles where YA readers/authors of all ages defend teen books? More than half of those articles mention Laurie Halse Anderson’s books or quote her directly, both the pro and con. Tweet much? Try #YASAVES.
Several of my blogs over the past few years mention LHA. I’ve done her Write Fifteen Minute a Day (WFMAD) online writing boosts, taken her Blog Free February (BFF) to the highest level of commitment—no social media all month, and have traveled to New Orleans to meet her while she’s been on book tours—even made HER blog for that!
Back to the relief efforts… Laurie decided to auction/raffle a full manuscript critique in order to help raise money for the Joplin/Ozark area Red Cross. The requirements were for every $10 you donate, you get one entry into the raffle. I begged around to family and friends and a few people donated in my behalf to up the odds. And I prayed, as did others. And I won!
I need to get Corroded as polished as possible within the next few months in able to not waste LHA’s time and get the most help out of the critique. But that dream come true is looming like a thunderstorm over an outdoor graduation ceremony!
When I’m not pacing—or caring for kids or doing church work or planning writers guild events or any other number of worthy causes—I’m hiding within the pages of other people’s books.
I was loaned this interesting adventure by one friend (who I let know not to loan me another book in a series until the WHOLE series is out. Must wait for the rest of the story…):
And then I FINALLY started reading The Hunger Games trilogy. I’m now on this borrowed copy from another friend:
I’m up into the wee hours of the morning reading. Too tired to wake up before the kids to exercise first thing. Without the physical conditioning my creativity and motivation is slumping. My brain is fried from the summer heat by the end of the day so all I want to do is lay in bed at night and read. Which leads to late nights with my book light and groggy mornings. Rinse and repeat.
Now, I’m breaking my silence and the cycle.
I will do some form of exercise daily, beginning today.
I will NOT open Catching Fire, or any other novel, until I have written at least 30 minutes.
I will set my alarm each morning and get out of bed in a timely fashion no matter how late I am up.
And I want you to hold me accountable. Send an e-mail, tweet, comment, or actually in person ask if I’m any closer to sending Corroded to Laurie Halse Anderson. Because that action now freaks me out.
Do I really want to know what a NYT best selling author thinks about my work?
Do I really want one of my literary heroes to tell me what is wrong with it? (And what’s good, but the negative always shouts louder in my head.)
Won’t rejection feel worse from someone I admire than a faceless agent or editor?
What was I thinking?!
That it would be an excellent opportunity to be read by someone whose work I admire.
That learning the strengths—and weaknesses—in the story will help me hone my writing/editing skills.
That a possible blurb from a NYT best selling author will be a great foot in the door to the publishing industry. And the bragging rights aren’t bad either.
There’s a motivational poster slogan that reads: You cannot fulfill your dreams unless you dare to risk it all.
So, please, dare me to write. Dare me to finish Corroded and send it to Laurie Halse Anderson for critique. And then dare me to accept the advice and write on.
Yawn. It’s close to bedtime but I haven’t written anything more than a few e-mails and a FaceBook status today. The need to put thoughts into words, to feel the letters and spaces flow effortlessly through my finger tips, was too difficult to ignore.
Sometimes I feel the need to write on paper. The mesh of print/cursive—that I was always corrected by the students for using when substituting in elementary school—is therapeutic some days. Especially when using one of my favorite Profile Paper Mate pens. The act of moving the pen over paper is art itself.
But other times, like tonight, I need the soft music of the keyboard—the gentle sound created is just enough to fill the void on a finally quiet night. Seeing the words fill the screen allows me to feel that I’m accomplishing something, even though I cheat and use a size 14 font.
It’s been a long day. From standing in line at the local Wal-Mart Supercenter for 30 minutes because their debit/check/credit card server was down to having to rush to a pediatrician appointment for the princess (no worries, it was her two year check-up) to dealing with the oldest child’s meltdown (and not backing down on the repercussions.) Yes, it’s been a long day!
And why am I blabbing about nothing? I suppose it’s about writing and life, as usual, but there is a deeper meaning behind this blog.
Plain and simple. I’m avoiding my W.I.P. because I’ve spent over a month working on a short story. And this past week I’ve added a non-fiction magazine article to the mix so Corroded has been wilting in the heat of the southern summer. Well, hopefully its smoldering, but I feel so removed from it that I can’t help but think it’s less than it was… that I’m not able to return to the hundred plus pages without the storyline falling into the abyss of flatly written mush.
So, instead I choose to write a squishy blog. At least I’ve filled up a page in my document file. Any writing counts, right?
And to go along with this soggy puddle, here’s the first poem I have record of writing, way back at eleven years old.
Trees grow, very slow. By the sea and by me. They grow in lawns and by ponds. Very slow do they grow.