Down, sometimes, but never out

IMG_0080Helga’s Post # 118Reading back over our posts it seems the 5 writers are in constant motion. Traveling motion that is. How on earth can we ever hope to produce a novel within the confines of our restless lifestyles?

But we try. And from what I glean checking in on my writing buddies, everyone hunkers down, making progress on our manuscripts, the due date February 5, 2016 not so far away suddenly. We have recognized some time ago that the only way to produce a decent (and hopefully marketable) manuscript is to commit publicly to a deadline. Miss it and you’ll chance being tarred and feathered in the public arena of social media. So even with all of our erratic lifestyles all of us are determined not to be the one publicly shamed come February 5 next year.

Easier said than done. Speaking strictly for myself, I have been battling a gruesome schedule, leaving no time to add pages to my draft manuscript. Life has a way to push us in a corner when we least expect it. An aging mother overseas who really needs to hug us, or a commitment that takes priority over all else in our lives, something that absolutely cannot wait because we owe it to someone special, these are the things that tend to trip a writer, even the most serious.

Just a few days after returning from a trip to Europe (almost entirely family-oriented), I embarked on a long road trip, solid three days of driving with two overnight stays, from Vancouver to Palm Springs. A close friend offered to be my escort or co-pilot, plying me with snacks and stories throughout. While no progress was made on the writing front, ideas were hatched during the long journey, ideas that may well become part of a larger story.

So now that my immediate travels are behind, my writing life will start in earnest. But wait, not so fast. Arriving at a house that stood empty for over 6 months creates its own challenges. No WiFi, no cable, no phone (other than my trusted cell phone, equipped with a US-friendly SIM card once I had crossed the border from Canada). It was, symbolically and in a real sense, arriving in a desert landscape.

My to-do list stretches across three pages. None of the issues are remotely related to writing my novel. And every single day our deadline gets nearer. Every day not writing means I will have to do much of it towards the end. Writing partner Paula talked about binge-writing not long ago. I am now officially an honorary member of the concept. Never mind writing three pages or whatever, every single day. It may well come down to writing thirty or more in a day, and let’s not forget nights. There may not be much sleep during the last crucial weeks.

Yes, I’ll get to the writing. After I have run the vacuum cleaner through the house to get rid of all the dead (and not so dead) crickets that have taken residence in the last six months in my house. And after I manage to get that dreaded service provider, Time Warner, hook up my services. It has only taken a dozen phone calls with extensive waiting periods to get it into the pipeline.

Not easy times for writers who mean it. Writers whose characters are keen to get back on stage to be heard. Characters that are bursting at the seam to do what their creator has in mind for them.

All will get their pound of flesh. After the fridge is filled with necessities, after the car is washed after driving over 2,200 km, after I’ve put my face to the sun, even for a day, to get rid of that pasty northern pallor.

After that, I will bid my characters to come on stage, to dance to the tune I will have composed for them.

A writer’s life. A writer’s privilege. Not so bad, eh?

2 thoughts on “Down, sometimes, but never out

  1. I’m in awe of a few fellow writers I know, and how they manage to accomplish both their writing commitments and their daily routines. Multi-published author Ruth Logan Herne is up early every morning and at her writing by 5 a.m., after which she does farm chores (chickens, etc.) and is ready for a day with her daycare children. She involves them in baking and educational play while taking photos and videos which she uses to keep in touch with her online writing community throughout the day. Granted she must be an ‘A’ kind of personality, and I’m the total opposite, but she proves that if there is a commitment to be met, it must be met — hers being overlapping writing, revision and publication deadlines.

    Cosy mystery writer Louise Penny has just published a novel and has started a new one. She writes around her everyday home activities, her extensive marketing travels, and care (at home) of her husband who has Alzheimer’s, and now also through a move from their home and acreage to a city apartment.

    I think all the excuses we make, however legitimate they are, end up being a form of procrastination. We don’t have the desired block of uninterrupted time we think we need before we can produce our writing. Truth is, if we really wanted to be writing, we would find a way to fit it in. Some days I find it’s easy to do so; other days, not so much, so I sympathize. 🙂

    • Thanks Carol, yes this needed to be said. It really does come down to an iron-clad commitment, the kind Ruth and Louise have in spades. Ultimately, this is what separates the wheat from the chaff.

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