Thursday, August 27, 2009

Discursive thoughts be damned!

I've been working like a bee on speed since my last posting - buzzing from one delicious distraction to another.

I'm still struggling with Block#2. If it's not the dwindling supply of blackberries calling me into my garden, it's the newly ripening raspberries. Did you know that raspberries literally tip their boughs toward you when they need to be relieved of their fruit? Seriously, I've been watching them ripen and lean into the lawn so there's no possibility of my ignoring them.

Last night I made my first blackberry crumble in twenty-something years. I'd bought vanilla bean ice cream well ahead if time so I'd be sure to have something creamy to drown it in. As I said, delicious distractions...

I can't claim to be derailed by Block#3 since the 'hazy, hot & humid' days of summer have been kicked offshore by a wave of gloriously cool weather. It felt like Fall today. My favorite season. It's so pretty here once the tourists leave and the Fall colors begin to creep into the trees.

Back to the writing - I finished editing that novel and gave it back to the author - one down, one left to edit.

The page layouts for the magazine are taking me forever - I spent 10 hours working on just two sections (of seven) last Sunday. I completely lost track of time. This is a good and a bad thing - good because I lost myself in the creative process - bad because I forgot to shower, get dressed or feed myself. We won't even talk about what it did to my back...

Once I realized there was a potential for this blog to become Block#4 I made myself a promise that I wouldn't blog unless I'd written at least one paragraph of my novel first. That's why I've been silent for the last 11 days. No novel writing - no blogging! I admit it.

Actually, I did spend several hours writing a whole new chapter for my novel last Thursday. I was so excited to have completed something useful that I got busy doing god knows what and completely forgot to blog about it.

I suspect my new morning routine had something to do with clearing some room in my brain to write.

After years of stumbling out of bed to head straight for the coffee I am now taking 10 minutes to literally stop and pay attention to my discursive thoughts. This is the verbal dairrhea that begins rattling through my mind the very moment I wake up - and sometimes never stops until I fall asleep. The constant chatter can grow to a deafening roar that wakes me up in the night and feels like a freight train running through my chest. My morning mindfulness meditation seems to be easing this noise.

My goal isn't to silence my thoughts, but to become more aware of them. I have already learned some of the tricks my mind plays to distract me from doing what I really want to do. The "must do's" and "should be's" are quite insistent that they are more important than the "maybe it would be fun to do's". I am consciously paying more attention to the fun thoughts, the ones borne from creative desire, as opposed to a sense of martyrdom and duty. Hence the blackberry crumble last night. Yum!

In case you're wondering, I also wrote today - just a little. Not as much as I'd like to write, but it's better than nothing at all. I know this process is going to take a while to get used to. I've been so deliriously blocked for so long now that I can't expect to be unblocked overnight.

And that's okay with me.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday's Shit List

Aha! I just discovered Block#1: it's impossible to write on the PC in the dining/kitchen area when my sons are hunting for breakfast and hovering over my shoulders like gnats, wanting to see what I'm doing on a blog site.

Mothers aren't supposed to have anything interesting to say, right?

I can't tell you how many times I reduced the page, feigned interest in the toasting bagels and jumped from my seat for more than one hug to steer prying eyes away from the few words I was trying to write.

That's when Block#2 reared it's happy head and lured me into my back garden to pick blackberries, over thirty of them, and two small but perfectly round tomatoes. Now I have to soak the berries, for at least an hour, because last week I found a tick walking around my cereal bowl - big yeuch!

It's a gorgeous day. Perfect blue sky and a slight ocean breeze, although the weather woman is promising horrendous humidity later on - that could be Block#3 - too hot to write...

I gave up the PC and skulked into my study to see if my 5 year old iBook could handle the blog site. So far so good.

Resolution#1 Don't try to write on the PC when the boys are home.
Resolotuion#2 Head outside AFTER scheduled writing has been done, unless I'm taking the iBook with me.
Resoltion#3 Write in front of or beneath a fan, on full power if necessary.

Okay, so those excuses have been neutralized. But what about the really big ones?

Here's my shit list for today:

1. Finish editing the manuscript I've been carrying around with me for months - I only have one chapter to go and, to be honest, I am quite hooked to see how it all wraps up.

2. Begin editing and formating the manuscript I received a week ago (it's only 50 pages) and get it back to the author so I can have room in my head to think about my own novel.

Hmm. Something stinks. My attitude perhaps? Why am I putting everyone else's manuscript before my own? I wonder which button is being pressed here - why is my work less important than "what is expected" of me? Could this be Catholic guilt still steering the ship after how many years? I've not been to church in decades...go figure!

The list continues:

3. I have to begin designing the pages of my online magazine so the web princess can start building the new issue - scheduled to upload September 1st. Nothing like a little deadline to fuel the fires of total panic after weeks of, you guessed it, procrastination.

4. Did I mention the house hasn't been cleaned in two weeks? (Except for the toilets, which need a good scrub almost every day - teenage boys have exploding bottoms on a daily basis!)

5. Then there's the laundry to finish - the whites have been awaiting the Ping of the Start button since Friday morning.

6. I must get all those winter clothes off of the floor of my closet before the weather cools down and I need to wear them again.

7. Despite my goal to have all my magazine articles submitted by July 15th I am missing a few lead stories...writers! Oh, did I mention that one of those stories was the one I'm writing about how the Catholic church recently labeled Reiki as mere "superstition" and has no validation in the scientific or medical fields? I'll be sure to write about my experience doing Reiki on a client in the operating room with a renowned New England sports surgeon. What was it he said after the surgery? "I don't know what you were doing in there, but that Reiki made me look good. I've never seen a patient so stable, especially once we started grinding the bone ."

So you see my list is long, and each item is important, in its own way. I just reviewed it and guess what? I forgot something:

8. Write at least one sentence of MY NOVEL!!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

So the story begins here...

When I say 'ten years...and counting' I'm not joking. That's how blocked I am.

It's ridiculous because I teach writers how to complete their manuscripts. Seriously, I've been doing it for over twelve years now. But I have yet to complete my own novel. Talk about teaching what you most need to learn...

My excuse is simple - I'm just too damn busy to do the one thing I want to do most in all the world - sit and write - no distractions, no endless To Do list sitting on my shoulder, yelling at me to stop writing.

If only the characters I left dangling in the corners of my mind weren't so good at haunting me, begging me to give them something to do, to say, to feel, anything other than an endless waiting for me to show back up at the page (or iBook screen) to move their stories forward, even if it's just with a sentence or two.

My journey out of the shadows of the blocked creative mind and into the light of productivity begins here.

This blog is my personal challenge to write myself out of my procrastinations, justifications and bloody minded stubbornness that has kept me from my goal of completing my half-finished novel.

I challenge myself to complete the second half of my novel by January 1st 2010. That's 20 weeks from yesterday.

Can I do it? All I need is one Catholic nun to tell me that I can't and I will move heaven and earth to prove her wrong...anyone know any nuns?