Thursday, June 16, 2011

Writing is Like

I wasn't actually Tagged in this game, but Heather Kelly's blog inspired me, so here goes

Writing is like painting. It looks easy until you try it. Then you realize, there's all this "pre-work.” Moving furniture, washing walls, taping off, outlining, brainstorming, character development, plotting.


Finally, you're ready to start, and you put that first coat on, and it's easy, it's kind of fun rolling the fresh color on that blank surface. But then there’s then next wall. And the next. And now you’re tired and it’s starting to bore you, even though you’re listening to all your favorite music.

At last. You’re done. Well, not really done. Now you have to wait at least 4 hours and you’re starting to think, “This is good, it probably doesn’t even need a second coat.” But you know it will; even now as it’s drying you can see places where it looks a little thin.

Time to do that second coat, and it’s even more boring. You just want to be done, to put your room back in order. It feels like you’ve been working on this project your whole life. Even worse, you’re starting to second guess your color choice and point of view (that whole 1st person/3rd person agony).

But at least after the 2nd coat, now you’re done. Oh. No. You’re not. Now, you have to wait again, untape, retape, and paint all the trim. And after all your detailing and editing is done, someone reminds you, yes the trim does need another coat. So get back to work.

But now is it done? Oh yeah, it’s done. But you are not done. Time to untape again, clean up and move the furniture back. Don’t forget to clean your paintbrushes, write your query letter and hang the curtains back up.

All that work is worth it though, for the finished product. The room looks new and bright, you sit on your sofa, admiring your work, friends visit and compliment you. It’s all good. All except for that little spot in the corner of the ceiling where it wasn’t taped quite right and the paint bled through. And there’s a smudge on the windowsill. And behind the sofa, a splatter on the carpet. You notice these things and try to accept the fact that you will never fix them.

Eventually, you’ll need to hang up some artwork too. Especially if that query letter works.

I would like to tag Vivi Bickell who listened supportively to my writer's rant a few days ago.  Clearly I haven't followed her advice to stop looking at blogs and just write. Haha.
 
As for my other two tags, if you read this and feel inspired, consider yourself tagged!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Question Is Why.

Because. Because even though you say you won’t, you will drop one or more ice cubes on the floor, causing puddles that I’ll slip on, or soak my sock in later. Because you will close the freezer door almost all the way, enough that it looks closed and fools the alarm into thinking it’s closed, but tomorrow, everything will be covered with frost crystals. Because you will track sand and dirt all over the floor, and even though you say you’ll take your shoes off, you’ll probably forget. If you do take your shoes off, you will either go back outside in stocking feet, or come bug me to put them back on because you’re too lazy to do it yourself. Because you’ll leave the screen slider open a half inch, just enough to allow an entire army of flies and mosquitoes into our house. Because you will leave a stack of wrong-color cups on the floor in front of the cupboard. Because you will splash water all over the counter top, and then wipe it up with Kleenex. Because you will drink two sips of the water and then use the rest to make a mud puddle. Because you’ll leave the empty cup directly in front of the door for me to step on. And because if I explain all this to you, you will argue each and every point, and cry and promise not to do any of these things. But you will. You will do all of these things. And a few I can’t even imagine.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Creativity vs Routine

My friend Scott just posted on facebook, the intriguing question “Does routine destroy our creativity or do we lose creativity and fall into the routine?” (from a comic by Randall at xkcd.com)
But are routine and creativity really opposing forces?

For me, creativity went on the back burner for many years while I worked full-time, because I fell into that trap of thinking that all the busyness of life and routine left no time for creativity.

As a stay-at-home mom, working only part-time during tax season, I decided I had no excuse anymore for neglecting my dream to be a writer and so, I embarked once again on a quest for creativity. But those with children know that there’s no such thing as working “part-time.” I’d find myself writing at midnight, feeling resentful of the “routine” that kept me from the creativity. Other times, I’d squeeze in a sentence or paragraph between loads of laundry, feeling (slightly) guilty that creativity was causing me to slack on the routine.

Then I broke my ankle. Which is a perfect excuse to ignore the routine, and sit at the computer with my leg elevated, churning out page after page of amazing literature.

Except it’s not working out that way. After a few productive days, it all dissolved into staring at the computer screen, fixing a typo here or there, and then reading blogs, twitter, and facebook. What I now realize, is that the routine had never really prevented the creativity. While I was washing the dishes, or making dinner, or driving in the car I was always thinking about my story, and by the time I had a chance to write, I’d already mentally done a few revisions, or came up with that perfect line of dialogue (the one that caused dinner to be a little late, because I just had to write it down).

Out and about, running errands, I’d notice things that might filter their way into my story. I saw the perfect mom for one of my characters, walking out of the grocery store as I drove by. A Cobra Mystichrome that passed me at high speed on the freeway became the perfect vehicle to sideswipe my heroine in the fan-fiction I wrote.

I’ve even made a playlist on my ipod of songs that go with my story, so I can keep the ideas flowing throughout the day. It works great to keep me focused while I’m busy. But it’s useless if I’m just sitting around. I get bored, and look for other diversions.

Tomorrow, I’m supposed to be getting a walking cast. I hope so. I hope I can get back to the routine, back to letting creativity be the cure for boring rather than the source of it. Back to breathing a sigh of relief at 9 pm because I can finally write what I’ve been longing to all day. Back to realizing I stayed up till midnight because I couldn’t stop writing, not because I couldn’t get started.

For me, creativity depends on the routine. The only essential, is to make creativity part of the routine.