Saturday, July 30, 2005

Whoever thinks that writing isn't hard work should try doing it for one solid week. Just one week, nothing else, eight hours a day. I don't even care what kind of writing: ad copy, letters to the editor, thank you notes, I'm not even talking fiction, articles or the variety of stuff I do for a living. How is it that after one week of sitting on my tuccus (sp?) in my chair, moving barely more than my fingers (don't worry, I leave the house to get my exercise), I could be FATIGUED in the same way I used to be fatigued when I did massage? I'll tell you how. Writing uses up lots of brain energy, draining the energy that should be sent to keep your limbs spry, your heart beating vigorously and your mood elevated. If you think there is no such thing as brain energy, I can tell you that you are very, very wrong.

A lot of my brain energy this week was expended in the form of drumming up creative ideas to pitch to editors for articles I want to write. This is no simple process for me, because though I am happy to take an assignment to write on just about anything so long as it pays well, when pitching ideas, in order to write a query that is sizzling enough to capture an editor's imagination, I have to come up with ideas that interest me, first. So I've written more pitches than I care to really remember this week to a number of different publications. Some have landed and are giving me much glee. Others hover out there in that cruel nethersphere of editor's in-boxes. Others are quickly and curtly rejected. All in all, though, keep in mind, every bit of this work is un-paid. The pitches that land are the ones that will bring the income, usually on publication, though a few pay on acceptance, and those 'others' pay long after publication, which is just downright mean.

I've found myself drawn to social issues and the environment most of the time if it isn't an artsy type profile. I like stories about people with big visions and lots of passion who are working against the odds, or against time, or against the disparaging flick-off attitude of big corporations to try and further a dream/cure/attitude shift. I like stories that remind people of resources right at their fingertips, or how good their lives really are, or how they'v overlooked something that could make their lives better. In truth, I just like to write about people and what they're doing.

As for the novel, I'm seriously about five chapters shy of ending the first draft, with a little work to do in the first half before I'll show it to anyone. Two of the characters' plot-lines have crystallized and make perfect sense to me and feel like they're on-target and full of all the right balance of suspense and tension and revelation. The other, which in his own way is really the most important, despite that he may not appear to be the protganoist, is still working itself out for me. It's the one with the most gray area, and I know exactly why it's gray to me--it's my life-long weakness as a writer, my most difficult character to get to know, and maybe for that reason it's all the more important for me to get to know him, not just for the sake of the book. I love him, I know he's meant to be, and I just want to make his storyline so convincing, his decisions so believable that the reader will not be able to dislike him even for the bad choices he's made.

It's been very hard for me to figure out how to write the necessary drama unfolding between these estranged characters, and as such, I'm under-writing it because I'm afraid of sentimentality, of hyper-drama where the reader thinks, "oh give it a rest!" There's already one character who balances on the edge of hysteria, though she mostly keeps it in check, so the rest of them can't also...I also am really trying not to do a whole lot of psychologizing about why these characters are they way they are, and let the reader extrapolate what they will out of it.

Anyways. I WILL meet my goal of a finished draft by my birthday on August 30th. You can take that to the bank.


I like underdogs and I also like entrepreneurs.


At 2:49 PM, Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

Forgive my comment overload but I have to remark on this piece too. Having just been granted voluntary redundancy (very gratefully received I should add) I am hoping to use my impending freedom to write. Your thoughts have confirmed that this is entirely the right thing to do yet at the same time warned me the journey is perilous. Two sides to everything, as ever.

At 2:54 PM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

Tell me how my thoughts have confirmed that it is the right thing to do...i'm curious what would make someone want to write if they are not compelled...or else perhaps you are saying you are compelled. More absurd than perilous, really.

Feel free to use my email address:

At 3:24 PM, Blogger TrĂ©e said...

I have to agree, writing is hard work and I take my hat off to anyone who is able to make a living with their pen. If you look at my blog you will realize I've thrown in the towel and have resorted back to my childhood days--lol--that is, lots of pictures. ;)

At 1:25 AM, Blogger Perfect Virgo said...

You're right, I do feel a kind of compulsion. Despite the grinding repetition and energy sapping effort, you sound upbeat and optimistic when on the subject of your writing themes. Thanks for the offer I'll drop you an e-mail.

At 6:30 AM, Blogger Katie said...

I am so impressed that you can make yourself sit there for that long. I've honestly been competely stuck and had to get up and run around or go to yoga to get the thoughts out.

You will make your goal!


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