Saturday, 8 December 2007

The magic of writing

I haven't written anything lately. I keep finding other things to do such as updating my address book, catching up on correspondence, doing Internet searches for boat parts, playing solitaire: anything to avoid opening my "manuscripts" file.

I know I'm procrastinating, but I'm being lenient with the writer in me. She has to be in the right mood to create. The editor too has to be in a certain frame of mind to delete and rewrite. And so it's been at least a month since I've written anything new.

Meanwhile, I received a letter of acceptance from one of my publishers, a note offering hope from another and a "we'll look at your manuscript in the future," from a third. All these encouragements do little to get my index finger to click on the "work in progress" file.

Yet, I know that I cannot force the muse to wake. She must be gently coaxed out of slumber. This is not a writer's block - I never have those, they sound too violent to me - an anathema to the creative process. And so I wait, and today finally I peek inside my "submitted" file folder and update the submission record for each of the manuscripts. And then, I just lightly click on the arrow "up" which sends me to the level above, and which has in it the folders with ideas and queries, first, second, and third drafts, ready to submit, submitted, accepted and in print. And then, leave the computer on that page. With no pressure to do anything. Almost as if I forgot to close it.

In a few minutes, the screen saver will cover up the desktop page and I can forget about writing if I choose to but the screen with my work on it will still be there when I come back and hit any key. If I want to do that. I might instead close the lid of the laptop and leave it on stand-by for hours or days. But I don't. Something has happened that I can't resist.

Slowly, like a slumbering giant, or a sleepy princess, the magic process begins to awaken. It unfolds like a flower when it feels the sun. And I, the human instrument can do nothing until the magic happens but when it does, must follow its call.

Friday, 7 December 2007

I can't because...

So you've always wanted to be a writer, but keep hitting roadblocks. You don't have enough money saved up to quit your regular job so that you'd have enough time to write that novel, and you don't have enough time and energy left after the job, the family responsibilities and the everyday things like laundry, cooking, cleaning and shopping.
Money, time, energy, job, family responsibilities – the list goes on. They are the reasons, excuses and challenges why we can't do something we say we want to do very badly, such as writing. However, you can have what you really want in your life or your reasons why not. Or come to think of it: both.
Here is how. Take a blank page and write down the heading: "I can't because…" Now tape it to your fridge so you can add the next excuse (sorry: reason or even better: challenge) you think of, of why you just can't write today. And underneath, write a creative solution (even a crazy one).
This is my list to help you get started:
I'm not an expert in… (take your pick: psychology, gardening, cooking, auto mechanics). All the non-fiction books are written by PhDs with 20 years practical experience. I have this great idea but no credentials. There are hundreds if not thousands of books and articles on the same topic written by people who really know the subject. What's the point of writing another one? Who will publish it? And who will read it? Book and magazine writing business is so competitive.