A very private affair

 Helga’s Post # 33 – It’s hard to blog after the sad news of Jay Lake’s illness, as Joe did yesterday. That story should make us all put the foot on the brake and remember what’s important.

We all, writers, readers, friends, wish Jay well. And we will follow him on his journey by reading every word he writes and shares with us on his blog.


My post today is short because I am struggling to finish as much of my novel as I can manage before the deadline. No socializing, no errands until next Wednesday. Nose to the grindstone. Four more days to showdown. In four days all will be revealed at our critique group meeting where we share our final submissions. Five manuscripts, five new novels brought into the world since last September.

So this is my last blog before our meeting. Next time I hope to report something more detailed. As I mentioned earlier, I am behind schedule. No excuses, other than life gets in the way, to use an utterly overused phrase.

But writing is personal. It’s possibly the most intimate activity (okay, minus one) in which Homo sapiens are able to engage. What can be more intimate than putting your innermost core into words to be shared with the world. It’s also one of the most daring and courageous undertakings we can commit to. It’s every bit as daring as stripping naked and walking through Times Square during rush hour (not that anyone would notice).

And for some of us writers, that comes easy (not the stripping, but what do I know). For others, the more private ones, it’s more of a struggle. I count myself in the last group. Maybe it goes far back, to age fourteen, when I found out my mother had snooped in my diary. And it wasn’t even an ordinary diary. It had a lock and key. A lock that, known to everybody but me, could be picked with a paper clip. Funny, how little things in life stick with you and shape you.

How does this relate to our critique group’s 5 months challenge?

Deadlines for finishing novels has its advantages, but it doesn’t work equally well for everybody. There are a multitude of variables why it does for some and not for others. Some people are outliners, some write organically. Some just get the story down, grammar and style be damned, while others enjoy quality writing as they create the story from the start. (And get to regret it later when they have to dump their darlings during the rewrite).

Writing is hugely personal. Because it’s so creative, it’s a challenge for many to write to a specific formula and deadline. The famous ‘square peg’ syndrome. Yet, it’s precisely that which gets writers motivated and cajoled into racing to the finish line.

It’s somewhat of an oxymoron: Creativity needs space to roam freely, without borders and fences so it can flourish, yet it might never reach its goal, or produce a finished manuscript without the discipline of deadlines and rules.

Aren’t we writers a persnickety species.

And for all you moms out there, and those who ever wanted to be one,

Happy Mothers Day!



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