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Posts Tagged ‘goals’

With Open Arms

New Year’s Day is as good a time as any to return to the old blog, isn’t it?

Not that any of my resolutions have to do with blogging. I was tempted, but no. I blog best when a subject bubbles over into words–although it does require a commitment from me to overcome laziness and stir the pot, tend it before everything evaporates. (Oh my word. Too many weird metaphors … obviously I haven’t been writing enough lately.) Although, if I can blog more regularly, among other things, I may just reward myself with a domain.

I did make some resolutions, however. Here they are:

  • 1. Write 15 hours a week.
    2. Read more poetry.
    3. Pray the rosary regularly.
    4. Don’t stress about getting things done.
  • The best goal is #2. Straightforward and non-guilt-inducing. The first is … necessary. But I’m going to allow myself a little flexibility there. Maybe I’ll write 10 hours some weeks, and there will be weeks I write much, much less. But it’s about cultivating a habit. Which is, ultimately, why I came to grad school. So.

    The fourth will be the hardest. Nice and abstract. But there you go.

    And the third is easiest in its specificity, if not in practice. It is also the most needed.

    This is going to be a busy, busy year. Wedding preparations, a manuscript due in the fall (are you serious….?!).

    But I welcome it with open arms.

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    I have just survived a 2k day. By “survived” I mean that I haven’t gotten anything done except showering, buying some sponges at the corner CVS, walking some bills to the mailbox, feeding myself leftovers from last night’s dinner, and writing two thousand words. And by writing two thousand words, I mean two thousand words starting from the beginning. Again. Hopefully for the last time, because I think I’ve finally found the appropriate shape for this story. I have, at least, realized that the source of external tension wasn’t driving the story, which meant it was growing all sorts of weird limbs that refused to work together.

    I’m hoping that this story is about 20 pages, double-spaced–maybe 22. About six thousand words, although for a first draft I’m guessing it’ll be closer to 7k.

    The amount of material I’ve written for this so far, divided between seven word documents, is 27 single-spaced pages, or 15,246 words. Not all unique words, granted–I copy and paste passages sometimes. But holy cow, right? I haven’t even finished a first draft yet.

    This is why I need deadlines. I am spending too long searching for this story.

    Those figures don’t include the various forays I’ve made into first person perspective from my MC’s teenage daughter–who doesn’t exist in the version of the story I’m currently writing. Earlier this summer I struggled over whether to write it from her point of view, or from his. While both potential stories lead up to the same event (skunks!!), they are “about” very different things–they are different stories.

    The daughter’s act is primarily one of witnessing, and what she does internally with what she sees. Where she comes from begins to make sense of who she might become, what she expects for her future. It’s not quite explicit for her yet–things are just starting to click into place–so it needs to be in first person. The reader can see all she sees, and–by juxtaposing this against what she thinks–can also see what she doesn’t, can put together the things she can’t yet.

    From her father’s perspective–even though, in this case, he’s not her father–the story is one of decisions.

    I decided to go with the father. But now and then the daughter’s voice keeps coming back, and I think I may have to–someday–write both. For now, I write a couple of paragraphs to placate her, and go back to her father, who is giving me trouble enough.

    Wish me luck.

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    After a week away from writing, I am coming back to the story I failed to complete in time for workshop.

    The goal for today is 500 words. Just enough to get me back in. I’m hoping that my batteries have recharged. Or the story’s batteries.

    Or maybe a better metaphor to use would be bread and yeast and the rising and punching down. Stuff happens, I write, it gets bigger, and then collapses in on itself because it isn’t right yet, not the right texture, not the right chemical reactions going on between dough and the little critters that make it rise.

    Or a stew that’s been simmering, and different things float to the top while it bubbles, and now and then I add something else (or take something out), and hopefully it’s thickening up.

    I feel hopeful. I foresee this draft being too long, perhaps because there’s too much stuff in it, and perhaps that’s what’s making it so hard to manage. But what can you do except write the thing?

    And now this has turned into procrastination, so I will return to my 163 morning-words and make them multiply.

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