Sunday, November 15, 2009

Of time and rewrites.

Time. It runs out, it races, it stops at the worst possible moments, it's "on" or "behind" or "over." For me, it's just too short. Every day it's a challenge to control it and make time for BIC (butt in chair) work.

This is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated), when writers sit frantic and frenzied, writing a whole novel! The goal is to write about 50,000 words in the month of November--about the equivalent of a first draft. The idea is not to produce a publishable novel, but a draft from which you can sculpt a decent work of art later on.

I have to admit I like the idea a lot, but I never get there. Being mom takes over most of my time (as I truly believe it should), so there are only little puddles of time that I have for writing. When I worked in radio copywriting and later in news, I found that when you write on deadline, you can't sit around waiting for some muse to waft in and dump great prose on you. You just put your BIC and write. That myth busted, there was another I DID succumb to: I thought I needed a block of time to write. You know, like a couple of hours to get into the zone, live out my characters, really inhabit that fictional space. Let's bust that myth, too.

As a mom, I don't have two- or three-hour blocks of time. The "zone" is like the muse--not there. I have to write anyway. When my head is doing laundry I still have to write about a journalism professor conflicted over identity and love. When I'm in the middle of chaos, I still have to write about my heroine's peaceful home. When my characters seem stupid and alien, I still have to love them and make them lovable to others. And that all has to be done in very short bits of time, wherever I can find it. At least at the moment I can rest in the saving knowledge that it's just a first draft. NaNoWriMo'ers may produce 50,000 words this month, but my goal will be closer to 1,000.

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