Mad In Pursuit Notebook

notes and notebooks

Writing Again: from "Passion & Peril" to "Postcards & Pinot Grigio"

8.16.2014. Roadtrips often wind up shuffling my mental deck, even short ones like 4 days in Toronto. I wound up reading an ebook I forgot I had: Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. Of the short essays I read (each on a different writer, composer, artist, etc.), the preponderance presented successful and productive writers as disciplined larks. A typical pattern: up before dawn, totally focused on writing for 3 hours, using the rest of the day for more mundane business and social life, then early to bed. Their strict routines give them tracks to glide on so that they don't get stuck standing around for inspiration like someone looking for a taxi in the rain.

I like thinking of myself as a disciplined lark but I have to confess: lately, I've been frittering away those early fresh hours on activities just as easily done in the afternoon (YouTube videos, checking crafters on Twitter, and otherwise dawdling over breakfast). A question for myself: have I decided to retire my early morning ambitions? Even while I'm proclaiming to my pals how "deep" I want to go in my artistic/spiritual seeking?

A while back I began a sequel to Passion and Peril on the Silk Road. It was about Nellie, 20 years after her big adventure with Jackson. I had it in my mind that I wrote diligently on it in 2013 till I decided to spend all my time quilting and dollmaking. But the story I told myself was wrong.

I started my romance with fabric in September 2013. In February 2014, I discovered that Passion and Peril had some actual sales in 2013, enough for a modest accumulation of royalties. I was psyched. I grabbed an idea I'd had months before and ran with it. For 22 days straight I devoted my "fresh" hours to writing and racked up more than 12,000 words. Another couple of mornings pushed me over 13,000. It was only then that I stalled out in order to finish up some sewing projects before a roadtrip to St. Louis. I lost momentum, derailed from my writing ritual and allowed myself to drift along an easier path. (Sewing is easier than writing.)

So, you see, there was a month in which I had expanded my capacity to do BOTH sewing AND writing. Damn, I want that back. My bucket list is not about running a marathon or hang-gliding across the Grand Canyon. My bucket list is about having a body of work.

Of course, I always worry that novel-writing is somehow trivial. Or ultimately unsharable and/or unlovable. At least with quilting, you can donate your duds to the animal shelter. But I also know that these thoughts come from my chorus of shoulder trolls. Shut up, please.

Paging through my notes I came across some thoughts expressed by Walker Percy (1916-1990), a man who gave up being a physician to become a novelist. He thought a novelist should be like a doctor -- "a diagnostician of the soul's predicament." Those words are encouraging... even if I am only doctor to my own soul.

Anyway, I gathered up my notes and set the alarm for 5 A.M. this morning. My 2+ writing hours were spent re-reading what I'd written in February -- an easy way to start, though I also needed to label my chapters to keep better track of my work. On my 8 o'clock walk, I started listening to Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, for inspiration.

I was going to summarize the premise of the book, but I've gone on long enough. Another day...