Wednesday, April 19

Stopping writing so I can write

Here's a good essay by Sarah Hepola about shutting down the blog to write.

I want to write a book. Yeah, who doesn't? I know. But I've wanted to since I was a little girl, ticking away at a typewriter all afternoon in my parents' cluttered office while my dad tried to sleep enough to report for his second shift.

Today I've got very little to show for my years of fretting and hashing out half-baked plotlines and underdeveloped characters. I have a book I started two years ago — two years! — that I thought was the one for sure. But I haven't touched it in a year and a half. And now I have another book in mind that really could be the one. It's been started. It's a decent enough idea, if my brain doesn't crap out on me. And the short stories — god, if I tried, I could compile enough for a bona fide collection.

But this helps explain why I'm not moving forward:

At times, I started to feel that jokes and scenarios and turns of phrase were my capital, and that my capital was limited, and each blog entry was scattering more of it to the wind, pissing away precious dollars and cents in the form of punch lines I could never use again, not without feeling like a hack. You know: "How sad. She stole that line from her own blog."


I watch and listen to the world around me every day, taking it all in, letting it swirl around in my head, filtering out the stuff that's weird or funny or sad or interesting or typical. I'm struck with idea after idea that I just tuck away in that little pocket in my mind where my metaconscience lives. It's a crowded pocket, and stuff gets knocked out every time something new goes in. But I don't take the trinkets out of that pocket often enough to give them a really thorough look. Sometimes I take stuff out and — ever a sucker for instant gratification — write about it here. And it's mildly amusing. But, like Hepola says, I am pissing all that stuff away because I can't really use it again.

If I were a more disciplined writer, or one who got paid to do nothing but write, I could probably maintain a blog — my fun, frivolous ham radio — and still write serious projects on the side. But I really only have so many hours in the week to write. And I spend them writing here, not on those serious projects.

Every now and again — we're talking every two months or so — I'm struck with a deep desire (it's almost lustlike) to sit and write some fiction. But it goes away after a week, and I've usually not accomplished much but adding more unfinished projects to my expanding collection.

So I'm at that point where I'm trying to decide if making the leap — shutting down the blog or at least going on a long hiatus — is one that I should take. I don't want to do it if I'm not going to spend the extra time really writing, see. So it's just a matter of self-discipline. That's something I'm notoriously bad about.

Quandary.

4 Comments:

Blogger ml said...

You can't stop now. I've just discovered you. You're an excellent blogger.

Wed Apr 19, 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger mike said...

In four years of blogging I've written well over a half-million words. That's six novels worth. In four years.

I'd be a mid-list author by now.

Thu Apr 20, 01:54:00 AM  
Blogger Serrabee said...

I'd be sad to see you go... what about doing a weekly blog letting us know how it's going? That would be make you accountable in your fiction writing without totally deserting us. =-)

Thu Apr 20, 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger theogeo said...

ML, thanks! The thing is, I really enjoy blogging, so I'm loath to give it up.

Mike, that's impressive, but heaps of words do not a novel make. Writing a book is, I would argue, intensely more difficult (at least for me) than blogging because you've got one main arc to follow. Blogging is more akin to writing short stories. It still takes effort and skill, but there's no pressure to tie it all together and wrap it up in a pretty little literary bow like there is with a novel. That said, you should try writing a novel about the sordid political tales of Memphis!

Serrabee, I'm not sure I'd be able to tear myself away completely, so weekly updates would probably be the way to go.

I don't know. It's like a crack addiction. I really don't want to give it up, but maybe it's what's best for me. I'm sure I'll wax and wane and whine about it forever before I actually decide...

Thu Apr 20, 11:09:00 AM  

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