120 Writing

Every Draft, Every Trashed File

On Craft: Scrivener is my saving grace. I’ve been working on a novel for three years now. Three years translates to endless drafts and more than a hundred thousand words, most of which are probably worthless. However, Scrivener has been a champ. It keeps everything organized, every draft, every trashed file. Between it and Dropbox, I’ve got my sword and shield.

On Creativity: I completed a survey this morning. One of the questions was about my hobbies. It didn’t occur to me until facing the question that I have no real hobbies. I watch YouTube videos about other people’s hobbies. I listen to audiobooks. I fantasize about living in a town that’s so small everything shuts down at 7PM.

On Me: It’s the time of year where I tell myself I’m going to be more responsible with my spending to so I can buy a house in a town so small everything shuts down at 7PM!

120 Writing

The Work

On Craft: I read for two online literary journals. I love the routine of it. I love the spark I get as I’m reading work from a voice I’ve never heard before. I’ve learned, from reading submissions, more lessons on craft than I’ve ever learned in any classroom. I’ve experienced more artistic vulnerability and bravery than I ever have in any workshop.

On Creativity: My professional goal is to become a book editor. I didn’t know that back when I was pursuing my MFA, but here we are. There’s nothing like sitting with a work in development, watching as it becomes something it never knew it could be. I would love to make a career of it. 

On Me: Since my last post, I have developed a bit of a writing routine and I just want to say: I am proud of myself. 

120 Writing

Short Form

On Craft: I’ve been reading a bit of short form work this week – poems and short stories. I enjoyed The Best American Short Stories 2020. Kevin Wilson’s Kennedy was striking.

On Creativity: On Sunday night, I wrote a poem. Poetry is not my strong suit but it felt good to write those words… and to cross them out.

On Me: It seems that I have temporarily forgotten the gorgeousness the world has to offer. The Midwest has become a gray place. I miss yellow beauty, the loveliness of greenery, the soft blue sky.

120 Writing

The Struggle

On Craft: I watched a Tin House Workshop featuring Mitchell S. Jackson and Kimberly King Parsons. The topic was voice. What I want most in 2021 is to find mine, and not just with my work in progress but in every area of my life.

On Creativity: Published writers recommend daily writing. I want the successful writers out there to know that I’m sort of trying. Wait. Does this blog post count? 

On Me: I have become a slow reader. Before 2020 I was the Black Rory Gilmore. Before the pandemic I would take a book with me on walks and consume whole chapters while getting my steps in for the day. I was working full-time, raising a child and reading at least two books a week. These days I struggle trying to read two books a month. 

Uncategorized

A Crushing News Week


On Craft:
Sometimes it is necessary to abstain from work. There are times when closing my eyes against the world’s troubles is the littlest thing I might require. Only the journal matters, the blank page, the pen, the awful feelings.

On Creativity: I have been having wonderful fantasies. I’m not writing them down, only relishing. This week, in my imaginings, I won the lottery, purchased a small apartment in Paris, ate savory meals on the balcony of my lovely beachfront property in Venice Beach. My dreams have been very wealthy and free.

On Me: I’m listening to Chanel Miller’s audiobook Know My Name, remembering how easily one can become undone. I played sections of the book in the car with my teen son, wanting him to witness her shattering, wanting him to know that a brokenness like that is real.

120 Writing, Uncategorized

On Defense

On Craft: Yesterday I read Hanif Abdurraqib’s The Paris Review column. In On One On One he writes, “Defense is solely an act, a willingness to be fooled.” I can’t stop thinking about how foolish I’ve been these past forty-one years.

On Creativity: If writing is a conversation between the author and the reader, it turns out that while I have not yet uttered a single word to another living being through text, I have proven myself to be a wonderful listener. It is my turn to speak. I must prepare my voice.

On Me: As of this writing, I am six days into the new year, six days into a journey I am yet wary of. I am placing one foot before the other one toe at a time. Only God knows how far I’ve come. Only God knows how far I must go.

120 Writing

Without Grace

On Craft: The process of writing is not graceful. My process has been filled with false starts. My novel has tried me. I’m tired of talking about it, tired of thinking about it, tired of wanting it but yet I still do.

On Creativity: I’m nervous about what comes after, about what might appear around the corner. Will it be new? Will it be as it was before? I have no idea what to watch for. Change creeps so slowly that I can’t prepare. 

On Me: Some introverts shine on social media, especially writers. They glow in the face of strangers and know, almost instinctively, how to behave, how to interact, how to appear confident before strangers. They trust their words out in the open, alive. 

120 Writing, Uncategorized

An Update: Craft, Creativity & Me

On Craft: One of the writers in my monthly group recommended Story Genius by Lisa Cron. I’m in forty-four pages and have just learned that there is no point to my story. I’ve been working on my novel for three years.

On Creativity: Does forgiveness factor into creativity? Does it close doors? Was my transition already available before offense came? Is forgiveness closure, a last stop for unwanted travelers? If so, I want to offer it. My offenders don’t deserve to come with me, not any further.

On Me: When I try to hear my unhealed heart sifts through voices, stories, intentions, and gives name… good, bad, liar, Ahab, Jezebel, manipulator. I know that I have no right to judge. I want to hear clearly.

Check-in

Writing Fiction When the World is on Fire

I am not one to make excuses when I’m not productive. I am remarkable at abstaining from any activity that would challenge or stretch me. It would not be totally incorrect to call me lazy.

Oddly enough, this week, I found that I had a great desire to work. For five days straight writing is all I wanted to do. And not just journaling. I wanted to sit my butt in a chair and get real work done. I reordered ten chapters of my novel in progress, revised several sections, and wrote a new chapter. I got a lot done.

Under normal circumstances I would be proud of myself, of my recent stint with discipline. However, it doesn’t feel OK to do so. Not this week. It feels like, in the midst of all that productivity, I might have been hiding.

While I’ve been writing, in a number of cities around the U.S. protestors are challenging American’s comfort. Families are mourning. And while world changers are fighting for accountability in high places, I am making up stories. I am escaping.

I’m writing this post mostly to check in with myself, as I’m not sure if it’s OK to do this: to work, to create, to focus on anything other than the world and all of the many troubles that are yet so close. I’m not looking for anyone else to accept my guilt nor to tamper it. I am writing this post because I don’t know how to transform it. I am writing this because I don’t know if I have the right to.

Uncategorized, Writing Goals

What’s the Excuse?

I worked at home for a month. An entire month. I had a plan: wake up, attend to a few chores, make tea, report to my home office, turn on the computer, spend the mornings on work-related tasks and during the afternoons, write a novel. Easy enough, right?

For years, I thought my day job was to blame for my apparent lack of creative discipline. I thought I was spending too much time and energy at work. I thought I didn’t have the brain power left at the end of the day to be creative. I resented my responsibilities. I thought they were robbing me of productivity.

After a month of sitting in front of my computer without writing, what I realized was that the only thing stopping me is me. Not a lack of time, not a lack of energy. I lack discipline.

My blog posts are all the same. I am constantly coming up with different strategies that never work. I make excuses. In the meantime, everyone else I know is making progress with their creative projects, full-time job or not.

I don’t have the answers on how to go about finishing. All I know is that I really want to. I want to commit to myself and to the work. And I don’t believe its too late to figure out how.