Leave Me Alone I’m Writing (or trying to)
It’s almost 2011. It’s that time of year when people evaluate the past and plan for the future, mainly thinking about what to do differently in the new year – exercise more, eat healthier, reduce debt, write a book, etc.
Probably the biggest change I’ve been trying to make this year is to not dwell on things. Because of this effort, when people ask me how I want the rest of my life to look, I don’t want to answer. I don’t want to think any farther ahead than what I need to get at the grocery store and whether my plants are due for watering. Beyond that, I start to get worried.
I’d rather think about how I am “being” rather than what I am “doing” or what I am “planning”.
I’ve come to the conclusion that to want, to expect, to dream is to invite disappointment, failure, and loss. That may sound like negative thinking, that I’m expecting the worst, but I’m not. I just don’t want to expect anything so that whatever happens just is — there is no good or bad tied to it.
As much as that makes it easier for me to deal with my life now, I think it’s made writing a book much more difficult. In fact, writing a full-length book feels downright impossible. I went through and created a more detailed outline of events and timing for my book yesterday and realized that I had too much for one book. My outline looked more like it was for THREE separate books.
One book is overwhelming enough but a series? Especially when what I want to write is the middle part of the story, but I think I need to write the first part to figure out the voice and personality of the main character. I need to see how she comes out of the crisis I’m writing her into.
It’s one thing to journal or blog, where the writing is brief (OK, so I’m a little long winded) and doesn’t have to link into something else.
To write a full length book, you have to sit still for extended periods of time. You have to think more deeply. You have to remember where you left off and where you wanted to go next. You have to think about developing your characters — what their lives look like and where they are going to end up — all the things I don’t want to think about in regard to my own life.
So I don’t know what to do. I feel a drive and a need to write this book that goes beyond any kind of rationality. Some message in my head says that I HAVE to write this book. I’m not very receptive to being told what to do or feeling the pressure of “You have to do this!”
It doesn’t seem to matter that this drive and need comes from me.
I was plugged into my IPod at work today (to drown out the Christmas music) and heard the song “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)” by Pink.
It made me laugh as the chorus could be my theme song when I enter — writing mode.
To get the full effect, read “writing mode” with your gnarly head-voice, accompanied by a dissonant chord held ominously on a synthesizer.
I need my alone time to think, dream (oh, wait, I’m not supposed to do that!), and write, but when I slink out of my make believe world, eyes squinting against reality, and look around, I’m thinking, “Where is everyone? Damn I’m lonely.”
Then when I get together with friends, someone will say something and I’ll think, “What a perfect conversation for my character Kate to have”. (Sorry people but I am robbing material from you all the time…) And then I’ll be looking at my watch thinking of some excuse I can use to bug out.
That is, unless I’m in writing avoidance mode, which occurs after I’ve been working on something for awhile and that initial writing frenzy and energy have become merely a fond memory.
It’s when my writing starts to look very amatuerish to me, when my characters seem to be lost and suffering from multiple personalities, it’s when writing starts to become work.
It’s when I start listening to music videos on YouTube, like this one, which I’m including because Pink’s song uses the f-en-hymer a couple times, but if you don’t mind that, I’d recommend watching it since it’s kind of funny. This one is funny too, although it’s not supposed to be.
Wow! I can soooo relate to what you are describing, it gave me a rather visceral reaction. Maybe your main character should be a writer and you can use all your angst and conflict to develop her personality. When I was writing my book, I couldn’t even have Hannah (my dog) with me in the house, because she took my energy and diverted my thought pattern. I actually rented a cottage in a retreat run by nuns somewhere near Red Wing and I wrapped it up there in solitude. It’s like living in two worlds or having a split personality or something ~ very difficult to stay ‘present’ in your life when you spontaneously pop into the ‘other’ universe. Yikes! Keep at it. I like your ‘being’ phase and I see no reason why you can’t take a break from planning and dreaming. “Being” is good:-) Kathleen
OMG– I relate too Maery! When I’m in that mode, (which can now even be art mode for me) it is sometimes hard to evn hold a coherent convo because i keep drifting away. I imagine it being very frustrating for my friends at these times because I’m sure they can tell I’m only half there.
I don’t know why but that some gave me the total creeps!
Kathleen – I hesitated to write about my writing process and struggle since I figure it’s probably not very interesting to too many people beyond me. I’m glad you and Sue were able to relate. I guess I’m sorting and wanted to somewhat explain my absence in the cyber and real worlds. Nothing personal. I’m trying to be disciplined yet balance that out with my social life and desire to get out and ski, give Java attention, and ride my horse. I may have to do a retreat at some point, like you did, probably when I get deeper into the story.
Sue – Exactly! The video is funny and creepy at the same time. I think it’s the facial expressions on the hairdresser (what’s with the gum chewing?), the girl who’s so ready to be married off, and the guy who looks at her like he’s humoring his weird little, brainless wife. I bought some sheet music at J. O’Donoghue Books and that was one of the songs. There were some great songs that I picked up (old sheet music covers are amazing!). I wish I could find videos or MP3s of all of them online but haven’t yet. Finding the records would be even better.
I’ve been curious how you balance the isolation you need to create with not ignoring the important people in your life. You’ve had a lot more practice than I have. We’ll have to talk.
That gum chewin’ hairdresser just cracked me up!!! I had a study hall teacher who looked just like her.
When ya have a story on your heart it’s just gotta be written. When ya feel your characters loosin’ their spunk ya just need to shelf it for a bit and they always find their way back. You may indeed have to write a series to keep the reader involved.
Great post sweetie!!!
God bless and have an amazing weekend!!!
Nezzie – I’m wondering when your book is coming out. You certainly have a way with words.
ROFLMBO! That video was a hoot! I was thinking the whole time…get to the point already! What did he DO to you, lady?!
And what was the significance of her pulling the celery out of the bag at the end?
I had no idea you were trying to write a book. Good for you. I’ve tried many times over the years. I think I’m to ADHD to accomplish it. I just can’t stay on task for that long and I’m often side tracked.
Like you, I avoid thinking too far ahead into the future. I’m truly a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of gal!
Just keep plugging away..as long as you are actively working on it and making progress that is a good thing..don’t be so critical of yourself..don’t stop til you get to the stop sign:)
pick a time and write every day. even if it’s only 15 minutes.
Writing is work. No way around that. Keep at it.