Thursday, January 12, 2012

Work in Progress: Commitment

I’ve been between “big projects” lately:  no novel-in-progress that I’m actively pursuing.  No grand plan for the short stories I’ve been writing, though they could be shaped into a “grand plan.”  I’ve got some old work that I’ve figured out how to revise but I’m not revising any of it.

For some reason, this situation has made me feel lazy and aimless.  (Thank you, Life in America and Catholic Guilt.)  So I’ve been driving myself crazy trying to figure out what project to commit to, while also driving others crazy.  Why can’t I figure out that “What are you working on right now?” is just a polite, conversation-starting question, not an invitation for a long rambling discussion of how I feel I must commit to something but I can’t figure out what I’m going to commit to though I’ve given myself a deadline of January to get my act together and I have three ideas that I could…by this time, the questioner has fled to the bar or the bathroom.

I guess what’s interesting is that I know what I want to work on:  these stories.  I have been inspired this fall, working on a series of stories that might end up linked but might not.  I’ve been challenged, uncomfortable, afraid, intrigued by my writing all fall.  I think of ideas and insights at all hours of the day, at any number of various locations.  There are scraps of scribbled paper on my desk, in my nightstand; ideas scrawled on the backs of receipts in my purse.  I can’t get this work out of my head.

Why would I mess with that?  The thought of trying to push myself into something Big because I “should” be working on something Big is insane.  Run the hot streak, right?  Go with the flow.  Trust the muse, have faith in the process.

So here’s my commitment, since the drive home from the MFA residency at Converse was my Official Decision Deadline:  I commit to continue writing these stories that are challenging, uncomfortable, and difficult, and that make me feel happy and fulfilled as a writer.  I commit to not worrying about the Big Picture and the Big Project…until I drive home from the summer residency at Converse.  (I mean, I can’t actually go totally without a Plan, can I?  That would really be insane!)


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.