This is my last week before my novel-writing workshop starts up at Johns Hopkins, soon to be followed by packets from my Converse College MFA students, so I’ve been trying to make the most of this tiny lull by focusing on my writing—on one rather challenging story in particular. If I get a working draft, I’ll be able to work from that during the more hectic times when my attention is torn between my work and my students’ work.
During this week, I’ve had no social obligations, which was more coincidence than design (and yes, which is pathetic to admit). However, I’ve definitely noticed a smoother flow to my writing and time management: errands/misc. in the mornings, writing in the afternoon, cooking a healthy dinner (by design, thanks to all that yummy holiday food), catching up on New Yorkers and writing magazines at night. A few select TV shows. Kind of a quiet, dull life, and I’m not sure I could maintain it for too long…and yet, it seems to be good for my writing.
I’m never far from my story draft. When I cook, my subconscious is processing the work of the day. The magazines are inspiring, reinforcing my choice of the writing life with their artfulness, advice, and community. At night before going to sleep, I think about the characters of my story; when I wake up at 4AM, I think about the story and why it isn’t working and what I’m missing and where it could go. After I fall asleep and wake up again for real, I try to sort through whatever my subconscious might have figured out while I was asleep.
It’s all very peaceful and very obsessive.
And it’s working. This morning I had the breakthrough I was hoping for. I see what the story is about, and I understand how I can get it to that point. I still have today and tomorrow to work. My scribbled notes still look smart, a few hours later. Anything can happen between here and there, of course, but, honestly, I’m not all that worried. Not that I know what I’m doing, just that I trust that some tiny part of my self knows what it’s doing, and for now, I feel lucky that I can be fine with simply trusting in it.
Wait for it, wait for it. And if you have the luxury of time and space—even for a brief time—it will come.
P.S. This article by Frank Bures in the recent Poets & Writers magazine about the importance of finding ways to create space for your writing self was mentally helpful to me (i.e. the dangers of Facebook and being constantly wired in). Alas, it’s in print only, but the whole issue is worth seeking out.