Saturday, July 5, 2008

Finding time to write

Every workshop and lecture I've attended has emphasized the importance of daily practiced writing. This makes sense. How else can a writer create her craft? But it's summer vacation! And I've been given a blessed reprieve from reading student essays. I want to read, to sink into a good book. Writing feels like homework now, and in just three weeks, I have become far too undisciplined to do anything that smells like school.
So I carry my notebook and a good pen around with me as a goad and a threat. And I crack open another "new" book (at least I'm using the public library now--I've become so frugal). I tell myself, just one chapter and then I'll write another few pages. Then the book gets really good and so I read a few more chapters. A breeze comes in the window and teases at the edges of my notebook. I hear the flutter and it sounds like admonishment. I decide to stop reading in the middle of a chapter (they always end with cliff-hangers--can't stop there). And I put my book on the floor and pick up my pen and notebook.
I like to write on paper first. I found that out when I was writing my first novel (not yet published, but... It's something, at least) that paper and pen work for me. I am a tactile person, and I like the feel of fabric and paper, beads and ribbon when I create art. And I like the sound of a pen's nib scratching paper better than the sound of keystrokes on a computer. So I begin to write.
And then magic happens. The noise around me doesn't stop. The TV is on, and my family is watching it. Jared, my two year old, climbs into my lap and gives me a sticky kiss. "Hey, mama," he says, and I hear it, but I am also in Algiers while a young private fixes the engine to his superior's Jeep. I can feel the sun baking the back of his neck and I can taste the spice in the air. My fingers feel a little greasy too as he wipes his hands on the rag tucked into his pocket. And I write.
And tomorrow, when I sit in my chair with a cup of sugared, creamed coffee beside me, maybe I'll remember this moment and leave my book on the floor.
I am a writer, and I need to write.


ACW said...

What a lovely, wonderful post! I've been thinking a lot about returning to writing with pen and paper, at least trying it again. I had an interesting discussion with a fellow writer in a workshop I recently took. We both spoke of how, with backgrounds in business writing, we tended to edit as we went, which meant we produced in a sitting polished pages but less of them. It took forever to move our longer work forward. I've been wondering if I wrote long hand if it would force me to put more on paper and do less "editing" as I went?

I love your blog!!!

Kir said...

There is some freedom in writing on paper, I'll admit, because I know that I'll have a chance to edit when I type my pages. And a tip I learned the hard way: I usually type after I've accumulated between 5-10 written pages. Typing sooner isn't good because the work is too fresh in my head for a revision and, I feel, defeats the purpose of long hand composition. Waiting much longer results in a daunting pile of work to be done and leads to procrastination.


David said...

Not that I'm anywhere near you all and your skill level but when I go to write something, I CAN'T write it out -- takes too blasted long. I can type 10x faster and don't have to think so hard about every word because it takes insta-seconds to fix 'em... right then and there. And it feels that I get more out onto the "page" that way. But I do write the whole thing out before I allow myself to go back and read/edit it. Cool blog, Kir.