What I did on my summer vacation

When we last left our intrepid author (that’s me), she had met with an extreme failure of something — courage or imagination or stamina — and found herself in the midst of several writing projects, unable to move forward with any of them.

And so this has been a summer for introspection, as I tried to come to grips with what was in my way. Some of it, I’ve come to believe, is structural. I need to change my approach to writing. I’ve always written on pure intuition, and that’s creatively liberating and in many ways lots of fun. It also tends to leave me with lots of lovely bits and pieces that don’t necessarily hang together. So I need to figure out how to incorporate into my creative work the knowledge I’ve gained as I’ve grown older and more precise in my way of thinking and my approach to life.

I also spent time confronting a lot of old scars, familiar scars, psychic scars as well as physical, that stop me in my tracks far too often. I don’t want to discuss that here and now, but you can take as given that I was actively discouraged from creating, thinking, striving, trusting, for far too much of my life.

All of my good but incomplete works of writing have been stuck in the middle of these things. And there they sit at this moment. I don’t believe they’re dead since thoughts and dreams of them still arise in my mind unbidden. They still throw up fresh shoots from time to time. But I haven’t been able to move them forward.

I cleaned my office while I thought. I actually have a fairly large office all my own in the house where I live with my husband and our cats. It has a door that I can close and lock when I need to work, a very large desk and a separate table, a shocking number of filing cabinets and bookcases, and a ton of other stuff I dragged in here. Stuff that I’ve accumulated over my 60 years on this earth (nearly 61 now), and that’s a lot of time to accumulate stuff. You may not have learned this yet, but sooner or later you probably will: stuff that accumulates tends to carry big wads of emotional baggage, for good or ill.

Sorting, shredding, thinking and feeling. I threw things away. I re-organized my files. We carried a load of things to Goodwill, another load to the electronics recyclers that show up by our local Whole Foods. It’s been a useful time. My life now is different in so many ways from how life has ever been before. I struggle to understand that, to know it in my bones. But it’s time to stop introspecting and to start doing again.

I’m not going to join NaNoWriMo this year. It’s been a useful exercise for me in the past, but my challenge at the moment isn’t to write fast. Trying to write fast seems to play into my internal demons, so it’s time to slow down some and find a way to bring creative delights together with pragmatic structure. Or try to. But I have few demands on my time these days, and without something to hold onto it’s far too easy to let my days drift away in play and dreams, online and off.

From Camille LaGuire I learned of a writing challenge called A Round of Words in 80 Days. For this challenge, you set your own goal. Any goal you want. You post your goal publicly. And then you check in with a blog post every Wednesday and Saturday. The posts are all linked into the official #ROW80 site, so there is a blog hop aspect where you can see everyone else who has set a goal and check each week to see how they are doing. You can read the FAQs if you want more info. I’m going to join the new round, which starts this week.

My Goal for ROW80, Round Four

My goal for this 80 days is to write 1000 words, new words, every week. The Round goes for about 12 weeks (until Dec. 25), so if I can keep that pace I should have another 12,000 words by the end of the year.

I think I will start with my nonfiction book, but works of fiction also count. Blog posts and internet play does not count! 1000 words each week on actual pieces of writing.

I’ll let you know how the writing goes, and how I get on too. See you Wednesday with an update!



What I did on my summer vacation — 4 Comments

  1. Welcome to ROW80, Jennifer! I too have been stuck lately – I slowed down over the summer and came to a grinding halt at the beginning of September – and like yours, my reasons are many, complex, and not easily identified. But I made enough of a breakthrough last week to be able to get a slow start again, which I’m going to coddle and nurture as if it were the most fragile thing on Earth. Your goals are fabulous & I look forward to hearing how they’re going as the round progresses. Cheers!

  2. Thanks for that, Sione, and may your efforts bear much fruit. And seeds. Lots of everything good.