Monday, June 12, 2006

Dusting Off the Dream of Fiction-Writing

I have a general schedule that I want to follow this summer. I haven't really been able to implement it yet, but I'm hoping to begin this week. Today was a kind of "trial run." Tomorrow I'm off on a trip, but Wednesday life will be back to normal.

I spent most of the day writing. If I'm going to be a fiction writer, I need to get back into the writing habit. (That teacher thing? Old news. Over. In the increasingly distant past. I'm being a writer now.)

OK, the first sentence of that last paragraph was a flat-out lie. I spent most of the day procrastinating about writing. While procrastinating, I did some very important things: rearranged my pens, color-coordinated my notebooks, read a couple of short stories, picked at my face, folded clothes, did the dishes, vacuumed the office, slathered lotion all over myself, braided my hair, cut my toenails, and did many other vital tasks that could not wait any longer.

Finally, I sat down and wrote a scene of a conversation between myself and some wise, imaginary fiction-writing mentor in which I was berated for wasting so much time when I should be writing.

All this time, I've wished I had time to write. Now that I finally have time to write, I avoid it like the plague. Go figure.

Anyway, after the fictional berating session, I got to work. Wise Imaginary Mentor ordered me to write five pages of fiction--a scene, a character sketch, something--and said that I wasn't allowed to get up from my desk until those five pages were done.

Groan. Whine. Pick at toenails. Floss with chewed-up pen top. Scratch mosquito bites.

So I sat there for about an hour and filled five pages with a boring, rambling "story" (I use that term loosely) that wasn't a proper scene and certainly wasn't a character sketch ... but it was something. It was movement. Maybe it will become something more. Maybe it won't. But I wrote five pages.

I know that more ideas will begin to come if I simply get into the habit of sitting at the page and writing. Today was the first day of that.

I think part of me is scared that I'll get all excited about writing fiction (as I've done a million times), and then I'll have to get a "real job" again, hand every ounce of my time and energy over to The Job, shelve the fiction, and forget about all of the hours of wasted creative-writing efforts. I've done that same thing so many times. It's like I'm gun-shy now. I don't want to take the plunge into writing fiction because I'm scared I'll get yanked from it in mid-air. Again.

For now, my typical day will include several hours at my writing desk, working at my fiction. I have my in-progress novel, but I currently want to work on some short stories, some of which I began years ago and haven't stopped thinking about since.

I'm not excited yet because I'm wary. But maybe, once I've made daily fiction-writing a habit, one that goes on for more than just a few weeks, I'll get excited about it again.

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