Archives For not writing

I’ve been sitting in front of my computer trying to figure out what to say to you. I have little in terms of writing advice except this: write it down. Don’t forget the things that are important. Write them down even if no one else ever reads your journal, even if you never read what you wrote ever again. Don’t forget. The advice I’ve been giving myself lately is – write even if it hurts.

I haven’t been taking the advice, but I think it’s sound. I don’t want to forget any of the time I spent with Mom in her last weeks. I don’t want to ever forget the one-on-one time we had when she told me how proud she was of me, how she knew I’d go far with my writing, how the best writers are older because they had to live their lives first in order to know what was important enough to say, to remember.

I don’t want to forget how we laughed so much while she was in dialysis for three hours that we had to wonder if that’s why her blood pressure cuff broke that day.

I want to remember how she made me laugh when she whispered in my ear on one of the bad days, “He watches me while I sleep.” I was sure I hadn’t heard her correctly, and she had such a hard time breathing that it was hard to understand her. I leaned my ear next to her mouth, and asked her what she said. “Your brother. He watches me while I sleep. It’s disconcerting.” I pulled back to look at her face and realized her wheezing was laughter. She was in the final week of her life, could barely breathe, and she was joking around about how my brother wouldn’t leave her side, even while she slept.

This is the stuff I want to write down in my journal so I’ll have it forever, but it makes me cry. (And it takes so much longer to write things out longhand.) I’m already tired of crying, tired of the mood swings. But from what everyone tells me, this is the beginning of a long road. Great.

Of all the reasons why I’m forcing myself to move forward, even a little bit at a time, with my writing and my writing business, it’s Mom’s last private words to me that push me to work. My mother believes that there is a future that includes people reading my work and laughing or crying or feeling better or having hope. She believes not just in my writing, but in my ability to make a life out of words. I don’t know how long she’s felt that way, but this month is the first time I really heard it.

So, as much as it hurt, and past my deadline this week, I wanted to write that part down for you. You need to believe that it’s important to write or you may let it slip away from you. If it does slip away and you don’t feel a void, that’s okay. Maybe writing was only for a season in your life and you are or will be ready to let it go, to let something better take its place. But for as long as you believe your words and thoughts and feelings are important, write them down.

 

I have to say, if anything during my travel time has put pressure on me and my lack of writing, it’s this web site! I know that everyone knows I’m about to move to Australia (less than two weeks!! Woo-hooo!!), but I still feel weird that I’m not coming up with amazing ideas to share with you here every week. After all, I’m a professional writer, right?

But I’m also a daughter, a sister, a friend, an aunt and a wife who is trying to make all the people around her feel absolutely loved before she takes off on another adventure!

So what to do about that internal conflict? As I mentioned last week (or sometime lately), I’m finding my own life great research for how to create better internal conflict in my characters. I’m trying to think about my own conflicts with enough detail as to what and why and how they work so that when I get settled in my new home and get back to writing, I have a good memory of how it feels and how it should sound on paper. (My travel reading has been the Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. Jim does an excellent job of putting internal conflict on the page!)

Another thing I may have mentioned but want to reiterate (if only to reassure myself and ease some of my guilt for not writing) is that at these times in your life any writing task is better than nothing. If Steph or Shonna were moving, I’d be the first one to say, don’t worry about the blog, do the best you can and get back into it as soon as you can. But it’s me. I know you know what I mean – you’re harder on yourself than you are on your friends, aren’t you? If so, you have to choose which voice to listen to – tell yourself as a friend that you just need to do your best and that will be good enough for now.

So for me, as my own friend, I’m looking at my posts here and telling myself, sure, some of them aren’t great, but they’re not horrible, and even though some were late, you never missed a week. What about you? Do you act as your own friend often enough? Or are you your own worst enemy? Ask yourself how you can be a better friend to yourself. If I had allowed my inner critic free reign, I would have felt so bad about myself and my lack of fascinating progress that I probably would have told Shonna and Stephanie that I simply wasn’t going to post during this transition time. My inner enemy would have won. Eek!

(Hmm, note to self – how can I use that with my characters?!)

The other thing I do when I’m not able to get much writing done is to read lectures from past online classes I’ve taken. (I also re-read them when I need a boost to get me started writing again.) Because they are relatively short, I can read one while I’m waiting for the shower (there are 6 adults and 2 children here with 2 showers), or while John is pumping gas, or before I go to sleep, or whenever. That’s why sometimes I sign up for an online class I’m interested in even though I won’t be able to do the classwork. I read the lectures and emails later when I have time. For the small price you pay, generally $20 to $30, it’s worth it to have the material.

One class I took in person is being offered next month for the first time as an online class. My friend Bill Edmunds is teaching “Using Body Language and Vocal Gestures to Create More Believable Characters” for the Orange County Chapter of RWA. I often find myself using what I learned in his class to try to figure out what the people around me are really thinking. Is that teenager lying to his mom? Is that man telling the truth to the cashier? Is the newest bad guy on the news trying to deceive us? It’s kind of fun, and it helps reinforce what I learned about body language so that when I’m writing I’m doing a better job.

I also try to think of things in my daily life that might be good in a book later. For instance, I’m at my sister’s horse farm right now with the window open. A few minutes ago, a whole bunch of neighbor dogs started barking like crazy! But this is the country, and there are a lot of hunters here, therefore there are a lot of hunting dogs around. Living in the city for the last 16 years, I’d forgotten the difference between the sound of a baying dog and a barking dog. But I just heard it! Now I’ll try to remember it for later.

If you’re having a difficult time making time to write on your book, find ways to at least work on your book. And be your own friend. Give yourself a break about things you can’t control. A positive attitude gets far more done – on paper and in your head – than an accusing or discouraged attitude. What is the best you can do right now, during these circumstances, so that you can feel at peace about the other life issues you’re dealing with as well as your writing?