Writer as Sparrow

Truman Capote writing

How is your writing going? I ask because I’ve been struggling with finding enough time and focus recently. I have no excuses. My life isn’t any busier than yours, I’m sure. I have no children at home, no soccer games to attend. It’s winter and the weather is frightful. I’m stuck inside with my laptop.  My brand new laptop! Look at the new widgets! Ooh, look at that…!

Where were we? Ah, my lack of focus. It’s tax season, that’s a distraction. And it’s true that I’m remodeling a bathroom, but not personally. I have to deal with a parade of carpenters, plumbers, and electricians, and yes, there’s always some new wrinkle like after the water got turned back on every faucet on the lower level seized up and will have to be replaced.

But that’s no excuse. I have hours on my own that I could be using to concentrate on a new novel. Instead I’m dithering around the internet, looking at photos of my new granddaughter who’s too far away, drafting silly tweets, and yelling at my email newsletter provider (who couldn’t care less.)

I have started something new. It’s one of those ideas that come to me out of the blue — that should scare me off. But somehow it just makes sense. It’s not a mystery or thriller. It’s not in one of my series. It’s nuts really and I’m not working on it all that much. But here’s the thing. About two weeks ago I woke up from a vivid dream one morning. The whole plot was there, in my head. I got up and wrote down everything I could remember. It didn’t look as exciting on the computer screen as it did as I lay in bed, staring at the ceiling and feeling the surge of my subconscious. But I loved it and I never turn my back on my subconscious.

Now I don’t believe you can just dream up your novel and dictate it to yourself. Like this:

the story - regard

That’s just crazy talk. Writing a long story, a novel, despite having an initial idea that drops out of the sky into your dreams, is work. It will take months just to figure out what the story is about, how to deal with those themes, how to narrate it and illustrate it with words. That’s the fun though, once you reach a sweet spot where things come alive — I’m just not there yet. And my mind is unfocused, a flighty thing, a sparrow looking for seeds, here, there, in the story and up in the tree tops.

This is why we write. To get away from the mundane, the plumbers, the weather, the tax prep, the laundry. To enter that altered state where lives make sense, where the dull stuff is edited out and all is sparkling and witty and exciting, where there is a purpose and a goal and and a satisfying end-game. To merge into the world of the story and wear it like a furry coat that saves you from freezing, insulates you from harm, and keeps you cozy and focused and in just the right place until your work is done.

I’ll be there soon. I hope.

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  • Normally I don’t read post on blogs, however I wish to say that
    this write-up very forced me to take a look at and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me.
    Thanks, quite nice post.

  • The big enemy of writing, as of all happiness, is fear. Simply fear.

    • A

      It’s not bathroom remodeling?? 🙂 Yes, I agree. We are afraid to start, afraid to finish, afraid we’ve been fooling ourselves, afraid to make mistakes. I often say that I’m only interested in completion, not perfection. That takes away some of the fear.

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