Saturday, September 20, 2014

Maybe a Short

So, I sort of have a story that I started a while back that has been sitting on the computer. It didn't have a name initially but now it does. I don't know where it is going or exactly what is going on but I'd like to use it for play. Oddly, it appears, at least on first glance, to be a ghost story... or not.

I opened it tonight and wrote a bit on it and realized I still like the opening....all 1500 words of it. Yes, that's all I've written on it. In over a year...maybe two. It wasn't anything when I started it and I was just doing one of my "exercises". Don't knock it. Those exercise have worked up into some longer stories. If you've ever read about Simon you know already he started life on a lark. He's well beyond that now.

But this one, I'm wondering if it is a short story. I don't feel a long tale in connection with it. I may post some of it at some point, just to see if anyone gives any feedback. For now, it will probably languish a bit since NaNo will demand my blood, sweat, and tears.

Michelangelo's Block

A young G+ friend, Anya, recently posted a blog about how she deals with writer's block. It got me thinking about my own struggles.

Over the course of my writing life, I've had several run-ins with this pseudo-building material. It can wreck a good story. Yes, I know there are people who say it doesn't exist, that it's all in our heads. They told me the same thing about PMS. It is now a recognized health problem that affect 50% of the population. The fact that the other 50% doesn't experience it, doesn't lessen the effects or negate its existence and some of those will tell you it is real.

Until August I worked a full-time government job for 16 years. Before that, I was a full-time student, a full-time military wife and mom. Before that I was a full-time mom and military wife. Before that... well you get the idea. Let me just tell you that when you wear a lot of hats, life can interrupt you at unexpected times and for me, everything was secondary to my family. There were times when I couldn't write because I was running my legs off, the kids were sick, or the dog just bit the postman.

In the top of a closet I have a box full of stuff written long before computers. I did a church newspaper for about 4 years, writing for each issue. I wrote for my journalism classes, my english classes, my history classes, for both university papers and anything else I could find to write.

In the last 10 years, I've been hit with depression, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, severe fatigue, the death of my husband in 2009, devastating grief, and the marriages of both sons breaking up. Still, during all that I kept writing. Not a huge projects but anything that came to mind, often to keep my sanity. I started doing National Novel Writing Month 9 years ago. That's where you write a 50K word novel in 30 days. I've lost three times. It is the wins that keep me going back. And now, I am the local municipal liaison, wrangling other writers in November while I write my own 50k word novel.

Now I write blogs, long letters, and notes over stories in various stages of development. Before you ask, no, I haven't published. I write because I love stories and I love writing them but recently, I'm thinking more about publishing. It isn't the Holy Grail to me but it sounds like a new adventure. Along the way, I'm sure there are those writer's blocks lurking to interfere with my quest.

So, how does a writer deal with writer's block? I suppose I could write a list of special techniques to deal with those times when you're just mentally constipated but that's been done, several times. Generally, they give you a numbered list of what you should do to get around the block. Maybe they work. I wouldn't know. I get depressed reading them because I've usually tried most of them with little results. My own experience led me to the conclusion that there is only one thing that works. You use the same technique Michelangelo used when he created his masterpiece, David.

In 1501, at the age of 26, Michelangelo was commissioned to finish a statue that had been commissioned years earlier, circa 1466. The previous sculptor has been given a great block of marble to create the statue and had only sketched out the form on the stone before abandoning the project. The stone sat in the same spot for over 40 years, exposed to the elements. When Michelangelo took over I suspect that 19 ft tall block of marble wasn't pretty. For the next two years he chipped away at it. It became one of his best known and most beautiful works.

CC Roger Wollstadt
What do you think would have happened if Michelangelo had tossed his chisels on the ground and fanned his chin at that hunk of marble after he'd worked on it a few days? Weeks? A year? Were there days he couldn't pick up a hammer? Were there days when dawn came too early, or his body couldn't go another step? Were there emotional crises? Did his dog die? I'm sure a lot of things crossed his path. I'm sure there were days he worked a few hours and went home disgusted. I suspect there were days he was ill. At 26 I'm sure a pretty smile distracted him. But on the days he worked, he kept chipping away at that ugly block of stone until one day he stepped back and looked up to find it had disappeared, replaced by a beautiful piece of art.

You overcome writer's block the same way Michelangelo created his masterpiece, you write through the block until there's just a work of art. It doesn't matter how long it sat in the drawer or how long it has taken you to write it. You pick up your tools and keep hammering away. Eventually, you get past the block to the art.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Letter Arrived Today

I received the notice today from the Office of Letters and Lights (OLL) to say I'm still going to be Municipal Liaison for this region. They've also added a Co-ML and I couldn't be happier. Tammy was just such a huge help last year and knowing that she will be available again this year is such a relief. 

I've still got a couple of months but there is much to do to get it all sorted and get the meetings organized. I love doing NaNo anyway but the ML job is a bit like a part-time job as a cheer leader. I'm really fortunate to have such a great group of participants. They're all so eager when it starts and they bring such great enthusiasm. We have a lot of fun.

If you don't know what NaNoWriMo is, follow the link and find out. Then, sign up for the most fun you'll have in November. 

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