Writing
Comments 17

The Book that I Am Already Writing

I woke up this morning with the answer to a question that I had been pondering upon since last month: Should I begin writing a first draft again? I had previously attempted to write a manuscript, but  had to give it up when life interrupted. I considered lack of time as the issue because my therapy work is on the upswing and most days I am simply too tired to do any more writing after work. Giving up therapy work is out of the question – I know that it is my right livelihood and it is as important to me as writing is.

The words to this blog post came flooding  through my mind the minute I woke up. Nevertheless, I sat down and began my early morning writing. I stopped this practice for three days. I always stop writing when I am not clear about my writing life. Abstaining has its merits, and early morning writing today was an eye-opener – I found myself writing from a fresh perspective.

More Writing

Books are my best writing buddies and mentors. I selected one writing book to keep me company through this period of indecision: Courage & Craft, Writing Your Life Into Story by Barbara Abercrombie.

“Writing is about discovering who you really are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed,” Abercrombie wrote in the introduction. She continued: “It’s about tuning the messy, crazy, wonderful, and sad stuff in your life into something that has order and clarity and meaning – a place of writing that other people can connect to and be moved by.”

Why did I choose this book to read at a time when I am mulling over the question, “To author or not to author?” Mainly because when I went through the list of things I know or can claim I know more of, I realized that what I know about these things is not enough. My life is the only thing I know so much about, and no one else can lay claim to that. I also have tons of materials on my life: 29 journals, a wad of loose pages with my scribblings, a few art journals, and many entries in several personal blogs.

This morning, this blog post wrote itself in my mind, and the last few words were, “I have already been writing the book about my life for a long time.” I am free-writing my way through, gathering materials. The time for collating, distilling and re-writing will come, but for now, I write.

How Some Books Came to Be

I admire people who don’t need inspiration to write. I am probably a romantic – for want of a better word – when it comes to writing. I look to the experiences of other writers, and try to learn as much as I can from them.

Books are among my best sources of inspiration and guidance. In her book, One Year to a Writing Life: Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer’s Art and Craft, Susan M. Tiberghien discussed how some writers developed their ideas for the books they wanted to write.

In these different shapes and suits, the essay is the primary short unit of longer nonfiction works. When Natalie Goldberg wrote Writing Down the Bones, she wrote each chapter as a self contained essay. When Alice Walker wrote her nonfiction book Anything We Love Can Be Saved, many of the chapters had first appeared as individual essays. And Kathleen Norris wrote most of the text of Dakota in the essay form, adding journal entries, poems, and weather reports. The same observation holds true for Stephen King in his book On Writing. It is written in fragments. King calls them snapshots, occasional memories “against a fogged-out landscape.”

After reading this, I realized that what I have now is a treasure trove – lots of journal entries, blog posts, essays stashed here and there, poems and scribblings – just waiting to be sorted out.

And then there are dreams. Yes, I do have a dream journal as well, and it, too, provides a rich resource. After all, Stephenie Meyer’s book Twilight, was inspired by a single dream.

I know the exact date that I began writing Twilight, because it was also the first day of swim lessons for my kids. So I can say with certainty that it all started on June 2, 2003. Up to this point, I had not written anything besides a few chapters (of other stories) that I never got very far on, and nothing at all since the birth of my first son, six years earlier.

I woke up (on that June 2nd) from a very vivid dream. In my dream, two people were having an intense conversation in a meadow in the woods. One of these people was just your average girl. The other person was fantastically beautiful, sparkly, and a vampire. They were discussing the difficulties inherent in the facts that A) they were falling in love with each other while B) the vampire was particularly attracted to the scent of her blood, and was having a difficult time restraining himself from killing her immediately. For what is essentially a transcript of my dream, please see Chapter 13 (“Confessions”) of the book.

Though I had a million things to do (i.e. making breakfast for hungry children, dressing and changing the diapers of said children, finding the swimsuits that no one ever puts away in the right place, etc.), I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. I was so intrigued by the nameless couple’s story that I hated the idea of forgetting it; it was the kind of dream that makes you want to call your friend and bore her with a detailed description. (Also, the vampire was just so darned good-looking, that I didn’t want to lose the mental image.) Unwillingly, I eventually got up and did the immediate necessities, and then put everything that I possibly could on the back burner and sat down at the computer to write—something I hadn’t done in so long that I wondered why I was bothering. But I didn’t want to lose the dream, so I typed out as much as I could remember, calling the characters “he” and “she.”

  -Stephenie Meyer

 

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Photo courtesy of Morguefile

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17 Comments

  1. What a fantastic discovery !!! Your book has been growing right there in your heart all along. I hope the editing and puzzling together is a joy ~ give yourself plenty of time to rework!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like the idea of the book growing in my heart, Renata. Will think of the rest of the journey some other time….

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  2. I like the quotation about writing (about our lives) being a way of ordering our experiences and showing us who we are. I also like the way you have a very good grip on spelling, grammar and punctuation! Evangeline

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Shelah says

    I can relate to this! I always have always had this itch to write something, but didn’t know what to say. I tried to write several novels throughout my life–and then I stopped. But I kept on reading and writing in my journals. I always thought I would write my novel when I was retired and said things like, “I will write when I have a story.” Then I met Sakina and knew instantly that she was my story. An 85,000 word memoir seemed to just organically spill out as I told her story. Her life has been my story. I feel detached and deeply connected to it at the same time–feeling moved by what I’m writing, even though the words aren’t mine. Wishing you the best on your journey to stumbling upon your story!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shelah, I was curious to know who Sakina is, so I looked for your website. It’s one story I’d like to share with the readers of this blog.

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  4. M. L. Sexton says

    Most people think that being a writer is easy. Coming from someone who has been writing for 15 years, I can definitely say it’s not. I’ve been writing since the age of 10 and over the years, my writing has progressed but it hasn’t been made easier. Sometimes ideas just come to me as I’m writing and I’ll keep writing until I’m done. Other times I’m just staring at the blank page on my iPad.

    Life does get in the way sometimes but we just have to push through. I’ve thought about getting some of my blog posts together and putting them in a book, then I think about how much time that’ll take and the thought becomes a vague memory, lol.

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    • I think we’re on the same boat – here’s hoping we’ll both find time in the future to sit down and right books.

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  5. Hi Rosanna, with your background I’m sure you’ll write a great book if you keep at it. As Woody Allen once remarked: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

    I don’t, however, go along with Seth Godin’s assertion that books are more important than blogs (not that I think books are less important than blogs). The contention doesn’t seem to be supported by facts. Zen Habits, for instance, is daily required reading for hundreds of thousands of people.

    And Chinese blogger Han Han gets around a million visits every time he posts:

    “Han Han is China’s rebel writer who has become the unofficial voice for his generation.

    “As a teenager the 27-year-old began writing novels about angst-ridden characters that proved tremendously popular with China’s angsty youth.

    “But it is his blog that has propelled him to celebrity status in China and earned him the accolade as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2009.”

    But when it comes to sheer volume of visits, Matt Drudge with close to 30 million hits every day takes the cake. Drudge is considered a genius at expressing his own opinion in headlines he composes and then links to original media stories. The high and the mighty quake in their boots when Drudge goes on the rampage. Speaker of the United States House of Representatives John Boehner recently felt it necessary to publicly explain himself (grovel) to Drudge over a headline castigating the Republican party over something or other it did or said. Hillary Clinton on the other hand, resigned to the fact that Drudge seems implacably opposed to everything she says and does, attacked him instead. The thing of it is that nobody, nobody ignores Matt Drudge.

    By the way, it is estimated that Matt Drudge has made around $90 million from his blog: Drudge Report.

    So I wouldn’t sell blogging short. Your own blog, Rosanna, is I’m sure an inspiration to many.

    The most important common denominator in all literature is writing.

    Writing!

    The following lines written by blogger and award winning journalist and author Charlene Smith, a fellow South African who like myself now lives in the USA, explains beautifully what it means to be a writer:

    “The pen is mightier than the sword it cuts to the bone of arguments; it allows thoughts to bleed across continents and skewers hypocrites. The pen is a ladle that stirs human emotions, but it is also is a spoon that dishes bile.

    “The pen can create a bridge, a place of meeting for those who believed they could never agree. But the pen can harm, it can wound, it can be a tool of propaganda, and the closest confidante of the liar. Too rarely do we use these swords as ploughshares.

    “Pens litter my home, they’re in the desk, next to my bed, in my purse, in my car, they leak into pockets they have been forgotten in; the ink in the beautiful ones dry but I cannot bear to part with them, nor do I have the time to get replacement ink, they cluster in a drawer and stare accusingly at me every time I open it.

    “Writing is how I make sense of the world, it is how I wrestle with issues, argue with politicians, joust with business, soothe those harmed, try to persuade the stubborn, and in some small way try to make a difference. It is, of course, a significant arrogance to presume that anyone would ever care about what I have to say, but all writing presumes an audience.”

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    • Wow, Cecil, your comments are worth a blog post, which is exactly what I’ll do – I’ll use it as a blog post!

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  6. I appreciate your sharing that you write every day and, yet, you paused for several days. New to the practice of intentional writing, I am glad to hear that even those who have been writing consistently need to reflect upon their approach. And, congrats on the awareness that you are writing your book:-)

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  7. Thanks so much for this post. I have been doing some soul searching and you have just answered the question that I have been wondering. It is kind of crazy how that works sometimes. Keep writing!

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  8. Pingback: A Comment for a Blog Post | Writing on the Pages of Life

  9. Pingback: From Blogging to Writing a First Draft | Writing on the Pages of Life

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