Friday, February 11, 2005

Visiting with your work

Last week when I wrote about blogging and does it make for less "real" writing, I mentioned visiting with your work. Someone commented on this and got me to thinking even more about it.

I do find visiting with my work vital to keeping the momentum of the story going.

Among my other writing, every day I try to work some on my novel. I never have blocks of hours for this. But no matter what amount of time I do have--even 15 minutes--I'll pick up the pages or go to my new draft and futz, or simply read. It keeps me in the story, and keeps the story breathing.

Walter Mosley has a wonderful essay about this in the book Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from the New York Times (no connection to my show). In his essay, "For Authors, Fragile Ideas Need Loving," he says:

"Nothing we create is art at first. It's simply a collection of notions that may never be understood. Returning every day thickens the atmosphere. Images appear: Connections are made. But even these clearer notions will fade if you stay away more than a day. Reality fights against your dreams, it tries to deny creation and change. The world wants you to be someone known, someone with solid ideas, not blowing smoke. Given a day, reality will begin to scatter your notions; given two days, it will drive them off."

The man's a poet; I love this essay and would love to print the entire piece here, but copyright laws say no. The book has lots of wonderful pieces. I also love Roxana Robinson's "If You Invent the Story, You're the First to See How It Ends." I can't think of any other essay I've read that contains such a startling twist.

Back to the topic at hand: Visiting with your work. Do it daily. Don't use the excuse, "I don't have the time." No one has the time. Take 15 minutes from somewhere else. Skip lunch if you need to--or do it while you eat lunch.

It's very hard to take yourself seriously when you don't have an exterior deadline. I find it difficult putting time into my novel when it's such a long work in progress and there's other work that needs doing right now.

But if we don't take our work seriously, who will? And how will it ever get done if we don't do it now?


ifiwereawriter said...

Thanks for the pep talk Barbara. It is great advice that I will take seriously. You do have a way of hitting the "motivation" button, at least in my case.

unababyrose said...

This is great. It's a good reminder, especially the image of all my nebulous thoughts blowing out to sea. That's just wrong ;) Keeping them company keeps them around. It's like having a relationship. Putting in the regular work is well worth the the prize. Thanks Babs.

pishydish said...

I am in a critique group with barbara on alternating thursdays and generally have to submit something every 6 to 8 weeks. I let my work take a nice vacation for 5 weeks and then we have a few nice conversations. Sometimes we argue endlessly and nothing gets accomplished. Sometimes we go for walks up Spyglass HIll, swims in the lap pool, or just relaxing in the sauna. Then when it gets close to deadline time, my work starts complaining about abandonment issues and tries to lay a guilt trip on me. I feel my work is the gender of a woman, because i have to admit my error and give it attention. Just this last week, i took my work out on a date for Valentines Day, bought it a big dinner (Angel Hair Pomodoro and Tiramisu), gave it a nice mango oil back massage in all hopes my work would put out at the end of the night. Well guys, it worked. I was able to bust out 15 pages and extensively re-write my chapter for this class. There is a lesson to be learned by all. Foreplay really does help.


peter sanger