Sunday, January 24, 2010

hi, my name is sarah

And I've been writing thirty minutes a day for ten days.

Hi, Sarah.

And enjoying it! Previously, I thought I needed an hour and a half or two hours to write uninterrupted, which is asking a lot of a mama wife teacher. For a couple of years, I wouldn't bother cracking my notebook if I couldn't guarantee at least an hour to get lost on paper. Then I returned to what I'd begun in college: carrying a notebook everywhere. Jotting a few ideas between classes (or joining my students in a writing exercise during class), a paragraph in the doctor's waiting room, or a list before bed. Sometimes I go grocery shopping and still take along my current writing journal even though it's highly unlikely I'll write anything between sweet potatoes and feta cheese.

So here is how I've been spending my thirty minutes a day
1. Journaling. Sometimes I need to just blah blah blah about who said what and how much I'm worried about this or happy about that. I don't journal every little thing, but when I have something nagging me, it's so good to put it on the page. Cathartic. You know that already.
2. Lists. I adore lists. Writing a list is fast enough to keep your editor's mouth shut so you can cull later.
3. One, two or three pages of progress on a short story, depending on how often I pause to think of a word or listen carefully to hear what my character is saying.

I plan to continue thirty minutes a day. When I've got the time to stretch thirty minutes to an hour or so, I'm happy. And if thirty minutes is it, that's okay too.

Short Story Collection Update
I am aiming for seven to ten finished short stories. It is okay if not all of them are amazing. I want at least five of my finished pieces to be publishable material.

Two themes are emerging in my work: first, relationships. Typically, relationships at a turning point or relationships barely held together. I didn't realize how much I write about fragile relationships - husband and wife, nephew and aunt, mother and daughter, two people connected through tragedy - and their communication. I am very fascinated by letter writing; I used to write a lot of letters myself. So letter writing or left behind journals show up in a couple of pieces. The second theme I'm noticing is searching for self. Figuring things out, finding your place, learning contentment. I don't think it always works out for my characters, but of course I'm only telling one part of their whole story.

Right now I am writing an emotionally involved piece about wanting a baby and a couple who will need to decide if they can be just two, happily, or if only three will satisfy. This is very difficult for me. I have read about infertility and listened to friends talk about their own experiences, but I do not personally know what it is to want a child with an ache in your empty belly. That is the phrase that has been with me for years: empty belly. I have thought about these women for at least five years and am only now trying to write it. (Very likely, I will write it and rewrite it for years but I cannot explain why).

I'm beginning to complete final revisions on two of my earlier pieces - Laine and Evan. Among other things, I need to actually title them instead of referring to the pieces by the character's name. Evan turned out not to be the main character anyway!

I am pleased with my progress. I think I'll make it. Thirty minutes at a time.

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