Archive for September, 2006

Needed: a new structure

I have deemed this draft of the novel done. I need to let it sit now for a week or two before looking at it with fresh eyes and seeing what the hell I have actually written.

Which leaves me without the structure that was so vital for this last month of prolific writing productivity. So I need a new structure. A new plan. And this is it: on the weekends I am going to take a break from writing on any specific piece. Not from writing itself. The weekend is for playing. For freewriting and just filling up pages. I did 2 twenty-minute writes today. The topics were:

1. The Woman I Kept to Myself (from the title of a book of poetry by Julia Alvarez)
2. What was it that I wanted? (from a line in one of her poems)

I have 9 hand-written pages and it was so much fun to just let my mind wander and roam without a specific goal in sight, only to keep my hand moving for 20 full minutes.

My goal this week is to get a story ready for my workshop on Sunday. 2 hours (at least) of revision daily. It won’t feel as productive as the 2000 words a day was. That was a straight ahead no matter what goal. Revision is less linear. More of a spiral process so I think the time quota instead of pages or words will work. We’ll see.

Now I am going down to our art space in the basment for more creativity with k. She is finally feeling better. The fever broke and she can eat real food again.

If you want to see your own face, if you want to drop off the old yellow coat of yourself, pick up the pen.
– from a symposium on writing and zen.

I love the line “the old yellow coat of yourself.” That could be a writing topic for tomorrow.

And for more inspiration, check out this link:


It’s an essay by Pam Houston.


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Day twenty-eight

Word count: 52,327

Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.
– from “Wild Mind”

Not much of a difference in word count between today and yesterday. A little less than 200 words but I’m amazed I got that much in considering I had to go pick up k. at school because she was sick. I squeezed in another Dr. appointment I already had for e. to check out her ankle that has been hurting for a month. After an hour and a half at the dr. they sent us to the urgent care for x-rays of the ankle and to the pharmacy to help soothe the wicked viral infection for k. She just had some broth and a pill and now needs to gargle with benadryl and maalox- yummy… Obviously she will not be going to school tomorrow and the dr. said to plan for a rough weekend. Perfect…

Oh, and I’ve always loved the above quote from N.G. My writing has all kinds of energy when I remember to do that.

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Day twenty-seven

Word count: 52,138

Quote: Follow what you love and it will take you where you need to go.
– from a symposium on writing an Zen

I think that maybe I have completed this first draft. It’s far from done and there is so much to flesh out in the middle but a first line – perhap “the” first line” came to me as I was writing today so I feel it is time to swing back around to the beginning of the story. I thought I might want a break from it before tackling the rewrite but maybe not.

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Day Twenty-Six

Word count: 50,142

Writing is a way to connect with our own minds, to discover what we really think, see, and feel, rather than what we think we should think, see, and feel.
-from “Long Quiet Highway”

Yes- that is not a typo up there- I did pass the 50,00 word mark today. Three days early. But it still isn’t quite wrapped up. I don’t expect it to be a completely finished, polished story but I do want the dangling threads to begin to come to some kind of closure. Most of my stories do not have neat and tidy endings so that’s not what I’m going for but maybe by tomorrow I will reach a point where I feel that this particular draft is done. It reminds me of a class I took where we had to write a complete short story in three to five pages and I always struggled with that. It can take me that many pages to begin to learn what the story is about. So it’s like that but on a larger scale, trying to show a complete story arc within 50,000 words. I can see the benefit which is why I am scrambling to get it to a kind of closure. I want to be able to look back at the story with a fresh eye and see a story that then needs to be fleshed out. And who knows- maybe the fleshing out will take the story in a completely different direction which will then lead me to a totally new ending.

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Day Twenty-Five

Word count: 48,438

Writing is a great journey. It is a path with the possibility of making us free. And it can do all of this while you sit at a desk.
– from “Wild Mind”

New scenes keep popping into my head and I frantically type them in, adding more and more words to this novel, knowing that it is not in any kind of sequence that makes any kind of sense yet. That will come during the revision process. I just keep telling myself that this is the down draft. I am just getting everything that I know down. The next phase is the up draft, where I fix it up, deepening what I know, adding layers. I have read a few pages here and there and while it is far from perfect I can feel some sparks there on the page. It is the kind of book I would be drawn to read.

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Day Twenty-four

Word count: 45,347

The reader wants to come along with you. Take her.
– from Thunder and Lightning

That’s it…long day.

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Day Twenty-Three

Word count: 45,347

Quote: Our voice emerges when we’re jolted, loosened, connected to ourselves in a way that’s bigger than ourselves.
– from “Thunder and Lightning”

I didn’t get a chance to sit down here at my computer until 7:00 tonight. Today we cleaned the house and tackled the basement which is also our art area. Then I worked out, made lunch and went grocery shopping. Got home just before 5:00 when the girls’ sleepover started. So now the house is filled with five “tweens” but I managed to sneak in here and add another thousand words to my story.

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