All summer long I would try to sit down and write every day. “1000 words,” I said. “I can do it,” I would tell myself. But more often than not, I wouldn’t. Either I would be interrupted by Curls and Red, I would busy myself doing something else, or the voices in my head would tell me nothing good would come from it. Now that a new school year is here, I feel a new sense of purpose and hope to overcome the obstacles that keep preventing me from finishing my book. I plan to do some homework alongside my Curls, utilize inspiration, push through, and just say “NO” to the Slutty Stories (yes, they are a thing).
I didn’t go to school for writing. I have written my whole life but never bothered to consider majoring in it (but the four other majors I considered were important enough apparently). Now that I want to take this seriously, I feel like a deer in headlights. I wrote as a movie critic for HDFest for five years but I can’t even call that writing. I received the book Word Painting last year for Christmas, read a couple of chapters, and then tucked it away into my closet to collect dust with my copies of Twilight and Hunger Games. My intention is to read a chapter every day, complete the assignments, and improve my writing.
I read a lot this summer. I read books that ranged from young adult fantasy (Scarlet by Marissa Mayer) to comedy nonfiction (Bossypants by Tina Fey). I soaked up all that I could and called it my “research.” These authors are my teachers. Some teach me the good, others teach me the bad. And my favorite teacher this summer was Neil Gaiman. He is a God in the world of Geekdom and yet I had never read one of his books (but I love the movie Coraline, which is based on one of his books). His newest release is called The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It is a short story, less than 200 pages. But what I got out of it is something I will never be able to measure. I have never witnessed his style of writing before and now that I have, I want to get my hands on everything that he has authored. The story is fantasy, horror, coming of age, and love story all rolled into one. It cannot be placed in one genre. The imagery made me suck in my breath and the metaphors made me cry. I want to place a copy of this book into everybody that I love’s hands so they can have the same joy I experienced. Reading it has shown me that I need to open my mind even more and step out of my box to become a better writer.
Forcing myself to sit down and write is not my strong suit. I am the queen of procrastination and I can think of about 10 other things I could be doing when I am supposed to be writing. One of the bloggers I read pinned an article on Pinterest recently that stated in order to be successful with writing, you have to treat it like a job. Well, DUH. You have to do it every day. You have to make the time. Don’t give up. Put in the hours. It will only benefit you. And it really is that simple. So when I tell myself it really is okay to clean out the fridge instead of writing that next paragraph, my inner writer has to push back. The refrigerator can wait. My best selling novel cannot.
Slutty stories is a concept I stumbled upon while reading Rachel Hawkins’ blog (author of Hex Hall). She tells the story of writing her first book and how when she hits a wall, a better and easier story starts to whisper sweet nothings into her ear. And once I read that and started writing my book, the slutty stories started knocking on my door. It usually starts with me waking up early in the morning and having a fabulous idea for a book. When I roll over to jot down my thoughts in my notebook, I realize it’s not there. My notebook is all the way in the kitchen. As in, way too far for me to get up and retrieve it. I tell myself I will remember the idea in a couple of hours when I get up. And when that time comes, what happens?? I have forgotten my next great book and what it’s supposed to be about, which haunts me for the rest of the day. This just happened last week. I woke up at 630 am with a cool children’s story (in my humble mind). Notebook is still in the kitchen. Rather than take the logical route I start repeating the story to myself. The characters and what they look like. Who they are. Where they come from. I keep doing this until I fall back asleep. And the funny thing is, it worked. I write everything I remember (minus a detail or two) and set the story aside. Now it won’t be needling me to consider it rather than waiting til I am done with my not-as-good current story. Take that slutty stories. Now march yourself back to the back of my writer’s mind and wait your turn.
With all this laid out before me, there is no reason why I can’t finish my book by the end of the year. Word Painting will help me with creating my world, inspiration will expand my mind, willpower will get me through the rough spots, and a writing pad by my bed will keep the slutty stories at bay. And once again, I will put one word in front of another.