Ah yes, writing. It continues to be sporadic, but it is improving. At one point, 2plus years ago, I was up to 1,000 words a day of written fiction. I could sit down at any time of the day or night and produce the introduction to a short story or the middle of some novel I desperately wanted to write all of. Never an ending. I’m not very good at endings. Now, well, now I’m less prolific…
I write about 1,500 words a week. Mondays is my writing day and I guard it jealously, retreating to the ManCave (which in addition to being my Husband’s late night hideout, is also an office, a baby’s storage room, and a yoga studio – my house is quite small) with a cup of tea, I put on my headphones and shut out the world for two hours. I have to alternate between writing fiction and writing blog, so I mostly blog when I have something to say, when something has happened. The writing…well, the topic varies.
I’m taking a break from short stories and working on my two longer “novel” length pieces, both of which I adore and can’t possibly leave well enough alone. But none of it is what I want to write.
I write by a few simple rules. First among them: write what you know. Nothing is more empty and joyless than a story written by someone who knows nothing about the topic at hand. It is obvious to me, something about the tone or mood or some such visceral thing is just off. So I avoid it. Now this doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t write speculative fiction, or historical fiction, or even necessarily that one shouldn’t write across difference. (Put on your academic hat and look it up. The complexities of identity politics in that little phrase “writing across difference” will straighten your hair.) It just means that when you put your fingers to the keys and try to say something you’d better do your research and paint a full and accurate picture, or someone is going to call you out. Besides, there is a way in which all of those things (speculation, history, identity) are just trappings, surface images – they aren’t really what I write about. I write about women living very normal lives in magical, non-normal settings. I write about women finding magic in themselves and figuring out how to point it in the right direction. I write the fiction I’d like to read, wish had been written when I was browsing the public library as a teen, the kind of fiction I’d like to think makes you believe.
So now, what am I writing about? Well, what I want to write about is what I know right now: I want to write about maternity. I want to invent a mother and put her in all these settings — spaceships and sailing ships, ancient deserts and cybercities — and see what she does, what she looks like in the beginning, middle, end.
So that’s what I did. And it has sold. By which I mean, that I wrote something and some stranger – three strangers, in fact – read it and decided that it told a story worth reading. More details are forthcoming as I know more, but for now here’re the important bits: A short story I wrote about motherhood and womanhood and life will be published in an anthology in January 2012.
So now, to do it again. Not necessarily to be published again, but to write another story, a different story, with the same ring of truth.
While I have this core of inspiration, the trappings are proving – elusive at best. Where? When? What class? What shape? There are so many options that I’m frozen in front of them. So I’m blogging. B/c writing about the process is easier some days than having the damn process itself.
So I’ve been reading a lot of blogs lately, and the trend seems to be to end the post with some thought provoking question that will encourage comments. So. Um. Yeah. When I think of one, I’ll let you know.