Monday, April 28, 2008

A Picture of Me Working

A really cool thing happened today. It was Monday. The Monday after one of my husband's three day weekends, and those Mondays are always low production days for me. So I was doing my usual dinking around, going from thing to thing, unable to focus or concentrate on anything much, even as the voices of doom murmured at the back of my mind that the deadline was drawing nearer and I should be working, certainly much harder and for more hours than I was. In fact, I hadn't worked all morning, when I had ample opportunity.

Finally sometime around noon I persuaded myself it was time to really put my mind to the task of working on the book... and of course, there was the Blankness again. My familiar friend. So the first thing I did (the only thing I could think to do) was write a nonstop that ended up being a combination whine and prayer. Was I out of line for my lack of dedication and devotion to writing? As my calling and service to God, shouldn't I be treating it all more seriously? Shouldn't I just exercise self-discipline and plod on from A to B to C... The self-condemnation started in.

Then I asked myself I was thinking. I was thinking that I wanted some progress, that I was bad because there wasn't any. That if I’d just buckle down and pay attention, put my mind to there problem, there would be progress. But how did that mesh with the concept of resting that I've spent the last three weeks learning about? With waiting for the Lord to provide?

I ended up all confused and frustrated again. I didn't know what I was supposed to be doing. I realized I had a form of how a writer's day should look, but that was someone else's form. Was that consistent with whatever God's form of it would be for me? What does me working on the book look like from God’s point of view? I had no idea. So I asked Him.

About half an hour later I decided to check blogs, and went to Robin McKinley's wondering if she had put up more pictures of her "hellhounds". She hadn't so I went to her website to see if there were some there, and instead I stumbled upon her FAQ's and the question of how many hours a day she spent writing. Her answer? "Two to twelve." Then she elaborated.

And described how I work almost exactly. It's two hours in the beginning when it's so darned hard. When you are "spinning substance out of nothing." When on a good day you know not just the next word but maybe the next sentence or even paragraph. Which is, as I've said before and she reiterated, "an incredibly exhausting process." But once "the book gathers momentum -- and pages and drafts -- I can work on it for longer , because there's more there to work with." Exactly.

Once you have some idea where you're going and how things fit together, those things breed more ideas and more connections and it just takes off. That's when you start putting in the 12 to 14 hour days. I'm just not there yet. So doing 5 pages of virgin draft, which is what I did today, is extremely draining for me and it's okay. It's how it's supposed to be for me. I just need to remember that.

Her discussion, which you can read here if you want (you'll have to scroll down to the second question, although her answer to the first question was very descriptive of my experiences as well), was so exactly what I go through that reading it set me free. I wasn't just being a lazy sloth. This really is a pattern and a way of working. And it occurred to me as I came to the end of it that God had just given me a "picture" of what me working on the book looked like.

And that, too, is very freeing. As for how I'm going to make my deadline if I only write six pages a day... I'm not going there. We're to live one day at a time, and I already know there's a point in the writing of the book when things begin to go faster. But even if not, the end can be rough. This IS a first draft... so, that's for Him to work out. I'm not going to try to decide what the number of tomorrow's pages is today. I'm just going to be thankful for the number that I wrote.

And also for how the scene that was little more than a few lines of dialog transformed itself without warning into something I'm finding very interesting. So. That's cool, too.