Blame it on my recent trip to Venice, Florida. Despite staying in an efficiency with a kitchenette, with the express request that I figure out meals to save us money, I still managed to re-energize myself to the point that I lit a fire under my writing dreams — again. This happened last June, driving down to Franklin, Tennessee, for a scrapbooking weekend. Nine hours by myself in a car, iPod fully loaded with inspirational tunes for my novel. Came home and wrote a detailed outline, with the help of R. Karl Largent and his brief but excellent How to Write and Sell Your Novel, which I picked up at the Ann Arbor Friends of the Library book sale for $2.
This time around, it was Carolyn See and her brilliant book on Making the Literary Life, which I found at the Sand Dollar Bookstore on Miami Avenue in Venice. I hadn’t planned on reading (or knitting) this vacation (see kitchenette, above); my husband threw in Ironside (which I was reading before we left) but it was too dark to be a frothy beach read. I surprised myself by consuming See’s book in just a couple of days instead.
The best advice this time around was her 1,000 words a day rule. Not 1,000 words of rambling, self-pitying navel gazing, but of fiction (preferably, or whatever topic you were writing about…not a journal entry, in other words). Four pages by the handwritten route. Easy enough, and I managed it just fine for 5 days (you take weekends off). Then I did a sixth day, then…I stopped.
One of the things I am discovering that I need is solitude. That is practically impossible with a 3 year-old around. Notice I said practically. I could certainly try around 10a every day, when Jungle Junction is on (his must-see TV). Of course, that is usually when I (finally) jump in the shower. But a shower only takes me about 15 minutes, and my son watches TV for a good hour, hour and a half some mornings. One thousand words can take me anywhere from a half hour (my speed record, and BTW, I loved what I wrote under pressure that day) to a full hour. That’s it! Doesn’t seem right, does it?
I find once I decide what scene I am going to focus on that day, I dive in and don’t look up. But that, for me, takes solitude. I understand why J.K. Rowling wrote in a coffeeshop (well, I am blessed with heat, which she wasn’t at the time, but she was bless with a daughter who napped, and both of my children stopped napping when they were two!) I love my coffeeshop, and yes, it offers solitude.
Here’s another interesting fact I learned about myself in this brief process: I can write any time of day. I always thought I’d do my best work in the morning (I still might, once my son is off to school daily), but it turns out I can write when he is in afternoon preschool (coffee helps).
Now I just need to get back to my 1,000 words a day. Next week is Easter break, so the kids will be around all. day. Here’s to hoping I can find my focus again and get back to my novel. I’ll consider it a mini-vacation from daily routine.