March 30, 2012

Hello, world. I am a writer.

Hello, world.

My name is Leah and I'm a writer.

Hee hee...still makes me blush. I've gotten better about telling people that I write books, but it's still sort of strange, what with the whole "I'm not yet published" thing. There's the "well, I could self-publish tomorrow, but I'm still holding out for the traditional route" conversation to be had, and the "these things take time" conversation as well.

But still, awkward conversations and explanations notwithstanding, I've grown more comfortable adding "writer" to my own self-labeling - it's now up there with "runner," "nerd," "mom to a cool kid" and "closet Broadway show tune fan."

This week was a rough one, though, writing-wise. I hit my first bout of writer's block on my new book. About 30,000 words in, I realized I hadn't begun to define my bad guys, and I realized I hadn't done that because I didn't have a clear picture in my head of who, exactly, they are.

So I spent one night staring at a break in the page where some kind of explanation needed to go. Nothing came, so I finally put up my computer, nowhere near my nightly word count goal.

The next night, I tried again. Still, nothing. Just a hazy blob, where I needed a strong, well-planned image to be. Again, I shut down early, frustrated.

The following morning, I mentioned my dilemma to Charles as we drove to work. We joked around a little, and then somehow, mid-conversation, the bad guy image took shape. He mentioned the movie The Fifth Element, and suddenly the image had depth, too. It was amazing, all there, all complete, as if he'd been there the whole time.

I thought that night would be great for writing.

But I let some outside factors and stress-factories get in my head, and I wasn't able to get past them. The well-formed, well-defined image just wouldn't show itself on my computer screen.

The next night I finally admitted I needed to give myself a break and take a night officially off. I was afraid of doing permanent story damage if I kept banging away at my keyboard, making no more sense than if I'd let my epileptic hound-dog have a go at it. 

The break was a relief.  It gave me a moment to catch my breath, decontaminate my brain.

Today, I found my voice again.  

It was a me-day. I have them about once a month.  I don't work Fridays thanks to my part-time schedule at the office, but usually Zoe stays home with me. We have fun on those days, but I'd hardly ever call them productive.

So once a month or so, I send Zoe to school on a Friday.  Those are my me-days.  Today, my goals were ambitious:
1. Run
2. Write
3. Clean bathrooms (my LEAST FAVORITE TASK EVER!)
4. Run errands
5. Write some more

I was mid-way through my first attempt at writing, and it wasn't going well.  I was still a little stuck, still a little frustrated.

But then I did what any crazy writer would do: I took a look at the people I was writing about, and I realized I had a problem.  One of my good guys? Yeah, he's bad.  Deep down bad, too.  Like, super-bad. I'd been trying to keep him good, but I was failing, because he was meant to be bad.

So I wrote a couple of sentences, letting him be kind of bad. 

And it felt good.

I wrote a few more, letting him be even worse.

And it felt even better.

And after that? Writing became possible again. More important, it got fun again. Which is great because, like I said to my mom last weekend, if I were to win the lottery (and yes, I did finally buy tickets to Mega Millions today because, well, why the hell not??), I'd still write. I love writing. Even though I hit a snag this week. Because snags can usually be worked out, with a little bit of time and patience.

So hello, world.  I am Leah, and I'm a writer. 

***************

In the event that you find my babbling about myself boring, let me at least give you a book recommendation.  You've worked hard to earn it.  

Read Double Dead, a tale of a vampire stuck in a zombie-infested world.  The writer is Chuck Wendig.  He's nice, and a pretty stellar writer.  Buy his book.  You'll enjoy it.

2 comments:

Amanda McCusker said...

I love that you have a writing routine. I did really well during NaNoWriMo last year and exceeded my own expectations with my writing, but after the holidays I never got started again. I think of myself as a writer, but I don't feel like I can yet label myself as one. You are an inspiration.

And "Double Dead" does sound like a great book.

Leah said...

You're sweet - I don't feel all that inspirational. :)

Seriously, the best advice I've received is just...if you're a writer, write. That's the only way to be a writer. Like, I may not be published yet, but I write, therefore I'm a writer. So if you write (fiction, blog posts, whatever), you're a writer, and it's ok!

So just...do it. And now I sound like a Nike commercial. So I'm done talking. :)

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