So, I suppose it’s about time I get serious and bring up this little project I’ve been working on. This is the first time for me to write anything down about my writing experience thus far. (isn’t that weird?)
I’ve been writing this tragic personal memoir for years now. I constantly edit and add things. I delete pages and second guess what I’m going to do with the plot. I have 280 pages written, probably the longest eulogy or poem or whatever known to man. All of the middle parts are there, I just can’t commit to a beginning or an ending, so I never write them. I just sit here, chewing on what is obviously supposed to be a masterpiece (the next great American classic…I’m a wishful thinker.) I watch the cursor blink and curse it in the process. I know I have other stories I want to tell but so much energy has gone in to this memoir, so many tears. So much blood! (not really) So naturally, I’m trying to push myself to finish the piece. That was over a year ago. I got really discouraged with it since I couldn’t get a grip on what I wanted to do with it. I let that project hang in my head for another year before I pulled it out again and I honestly really didn’t want to write it anymore. I’ve struggled to find inspiration or motivation or anything that resembled desire for these words I’d written.
So, spring break comes around this year and I’d had this new story rolling around in my head since Halloween, and I decided to write it. I have really come to believe that if an idea has planted firm roots in your head, and you cannot let it go, it’s probably time to write it down. This of course went against everything I believe (because I refuse to admit I’m OCD.) “I’ve already started a book! Years! Years, I tell ya!” I shouted this in my head. I paced the floor. I was pissed; I’d spent over two years compiling and editing and agonizing, and now I was going to let it go and for what?
WRITING REGULAR FICTION?! Gasp! I really thought it was blasphemy but the story just wouldn’t leave me alone.
I was nervous to begin writing because this was straight-up fiction. These are characters completely from scratch. While certain story lines have been influenced heavily by events and special days in my life, they are extremely romanticized. What is it I say in the forward? “The feelings are real, the story is fiction.”
I’m responsible for every action, thought, flaw, conflict, remedy and so on. It’s all on my shoulders to make it work and that’s something to take in. The memoir was easy in comparison because it was a compilation of my work with explanations. This book, The Anchor, is all on me. I have to make sure this story is told correctly for these characters; they’re important.
Now of course, there are heavy coincidences between my life and this book, direct correlation sometimes. I think every writer (scary! can I call myself that yet?) experiences this on some level as inspiration must stem from somewhere. For the most part though, this book is a dream. Age old life imitating art imitating life situation.
From here on out, I plan to write daily (when possible) to track my progress. I’ve reached 126 pages in the last 7 weeks. I edit every Friday. A friend of mine suggested that I not re-draft a million times and I’m really trying to stick to that. I’m focusing the dialogue,which there isn’t much of because I enjoy thought-based stories more. I’m researching locations and dates and times to make sure every detail is accurate.
I love this process so much: I write every day for three-five hours, which is intense, but necessary. This is a project I’m beyond serious about and I want things to go as smoothly as possible. I have a calendar with very strict deadlines. I plan my writing schedule around my work schedule (I’m a waitress,) which allows me to work on this book a varying times. Sometimes its all day during the day, and sometimes it’s after 1 a.m. I’m dedicated to this, so it doesn’t feel like work to me. Sometimes it’s a few hours spread out throughout the day, depending on what I have going on.
I exclusively listen to French Jazz music while I write, even though French Jazz has absolutely nothing to do with the book. I indulge in all sorts of refreshments, but my latest indulgence has been this amazing writing chair. (There’s a picture on Instagram. @something_elegant – I promise I will learn how to add photos!) I’ve tried writing from my cozy bed, the kitchen table, the right corner of the couch, the left corner of the couch. I’ve tried writing on the floor in my room and in our room-mate’s room (which is too messy for me to be able to concentrate.) I am now, thanks to one of my marvelous co-workers, sitting my happy, writing ass in a vintage wicker chair which I will forever cherish and take care of (Liza, if you’re reading this, be sure to tell Grammy I said thanks a million times.)
I’m sure my husband thinks I’m neurotic with all of the weird hours I keep and all of the random questions I ask him. “What do you think he would say? Is this an appropriate thing? Would a guy yell at a citronella plant?” The book is written from a male POV which has been challenging (and enlightening.) I don’t think of myself as overly girly so I thought writing from the male perspective would be easy…WRONG! I spend so much time deciding how Walter (the main character) would say things or how he would handle certain situations. Thinking (or trying to think) like a guy is really interesting.
All in all, I feel like the book is a success already, even if it’s just personal. If that’s all it ever is, I’ll be satisfied just knowing I had the guts to write it down. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
Little Gem: if you’re aspiring, I’d give it a read! http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-be-a-writer-that-literary-agents-want