Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Too Much

On May 31 I started writing my new novel, the young adult novel about the 17 year old lesbian.  I made a vow to write every single day, even if I didn't have time to write more than a few sentences.  I will say this for myself:  I have kept that vow and written at least a teensy bit every single day, so far.  I'm trying to develop a habit, which is a little difficult since I work varying hours and can't get into a regular routine with it.  I feel like it is important to check in with my story and my characters every day, even on days when spending quality writing time is impossible.

That first week everything went great.  I found at least an hour a day to write, sometimes more, and by the end of the week Chaper One was finished.  I am beginning to figure out what works best for me, and I love the freedom to write a little and edit a little, write a little and revise a little.  Doing NaNoWriMo I just threw myself into writing and literally never re-read or re-wrote one single word; I didn't have time.  This way I might write fewer than my NaNo goal of 1,700 words per day (ha!), but I do end up with (I hope) better words.

I love my characters so much.  It was positively joyful.

Last Monday my husband hurt his back at work.  Being who he is, he not only didn't tell me, he actively tried to hide it from me.  He went to work Tuesday and Wednesday, and even went in early on Thursday for extra work.  I finally realized something was wrong, but my reasonable suggestions (aka yelling) fell on deaf ears. 

I wish I could flip a switch and turn off my worry gene.  He didn't want to worry me, and of course, once I found out he was hurt, I worried.  He finally stayed home from work on Friday.  Saturday I had to work, and we missed a friend's birthday party.  I tried so hard to make Greg take it easy all weekend, to do everything that needed to be done. 

Last week was also horrible at work.  Several people were out, and my tiny department was extremely short-staffed.  It was hectic and stressful, and I didn't get home until late each night.  Also, I had my period, and all the stress and worry seemed to coagulate right in my poor uterus.  I was in pain and not sleeping well.

I did still manage to find at least a small amount of time, even if it was only 15 minutes, to sit down with my writing every day.  I didn't get much done, but I am cultivating my habit, so I felt like something was accomplished, and all week I was just looking forward to Sunday, my one day off, to make up for lost time.  Sunday, I was sure, I would be able to reconnect with my characters and be joyful again.

Of course, it didn't work that way.  I wrote a little, rewrote all of what I'd just written, and couldn't think what should come next.  I got stuck, which isn't too surprising, given my state of mind.  But it was such a heartbreaking disappointment.   This writing thing is tearing out my heart in ways I'd never expected.

When my sweetie's back still wasn't okay yesterday he went to the doctor, who said it is just a strain causing muscle spasms, and it's not too serious.  He's home from work today and tomorrow, hopefully after that he'll be fine.

And finally last night I was able to get home from work at a reasonable hour, and get back into my novel, really.  I see what's going to happen next, and what happens after that, and I am so looking forward to writing it.  Hopefully it'll be a little bit joyful again.


  1. dear ellen, it's so thrilling that you've fallen in love with your characters. Sometimes they're just going to be stubborn and make you wait, so don't be too disappointed when that happens. it just means you're mulling things around, waiting for things to reveal themselves and editing what you have so far is a fine way to stay connected to them and listen for what they're trying to tell you, at least that's what i think. mostly, be gentle with yourself. there is no right way to do this, it's all so organic with stops and starts and the joy of it is even when you are not sitting writing these characters are living in your head, and life is so interesting because you have this inner life unfolding. maybe you can apply to yaddo yourself? or another writer's retreat? can you get that kind of time off from work? even two weeks might be lifechanging, at least in the writing sense. i am so excited for you!

    and thank you for that amazing comment you left me this morning. i so understood what you meant about your mom's TV not working, and how much smaller that made her world. good for greg for figuring it out, but i felt for you, and i also felt so understood by you, and thank you.

    much love always.

  2. Be gentle with myself. That is such good advice, I do tend to be very impatient and very hard on myself. I'm trying very hard to keep the idea of being gentle in my mind.

    I've been looking around online at writer's retreats. You mentioned Yaddo to me once before, and honestly I didn't realize such a thing existed. I looked again at their website and was immediately pretty intimidated.

    The idea of being in a quiet place where I can just write, alone and in peace, all day every day, just takes my breath away. I could get two or three weeks off work, I'd have to save up vacation days and plan way ahead, but theoretically it would be possible.

    I don't know if I could get accepted at a retreat, but I guess there is no harm in giving it a shot. I can't do it now, but you have definitely planted an idea in my head, Angella.

    It sounds like you and your daughter are visiting with your mother right now and I hope so much that your visit is easy and peaceful. I am thinking about you and wishing you nothing but joy.


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