On Atwood and Writing

56th Trial: Happily I have little to report here, as the gift of gab has seemed to infuse my fingers of late. However, my dog Boo Radley persists in her state of distress with the fact that I am home more, writing at my table, and she is forced to lay toys at my feet that sit there, unobserved by me. She pretends to sit and wait patiently, but then her exhales narrow in her throat and come out as incessant whines. 

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot: 10-15hr/wk

Weekly Choice of Tea: Peppermint Coffee – I have set aside the power of tea and have continued the holiday-inspired flavor of peppermint coffee that I stocked up on, making the addiction REAL.

Biggest Success: I am in the Home Stretch. Its that exciting anticipation of being on third base, seeing the end with just one more bat at the metaphorical ball. I have not disappointed myself, and have left most things to catch fire on the back burner so that any and all free time have been filled with a hot cup of joe and my pencil. I have a tan notebook that has the black block letters “WRITE” on the front cover, and it is now more demanding than it was inspirational. 

The past few months have not been a struggle. I have felt more like a writer now than I ever have, and it is because I struggled over the past years to build the foundation and the story line, that now it is happily unfolding. I see the scenes play out before I can write them out, and the character’s have their own voice. I had not felt that till now, and realize the development of the story is likening to the development of my own, that both go through the awkward phases only to come out confident and certain, sort of! That in retrospect, something has been accomplished and created. This story is real, and the novel is nearly finished. I am on the last chapter, and my hands pause over this keyboard as I struggle to find the words to express what that even feels like.

It could be completed next week. I could spend the next month polishing it off before I print it out, wrap it in an outlandish bow, and submit it to my freelance editor (who I chose due to her deep affinity for Beyonce and Harry Potter). With the end so near, I hit a milestone that marks the beginning of the next mountain:  editing, agents, and publishing. That alone could take years, and on top of the many years it took me to get this far, I find myself only half way to the finishing line. But who knows, if it turns out to be a “success”, what time will open up for more stories to follow? But please, I get ahead of myself.

As introduced by my last post, I began Margaret Atwood’s book “On Writers and Writing” after reading the instructions of Edith Wharton. My education on the subject continues, and I continue feel the boundaries of a novel and a writer’s playful attention to them.

These are some of the most important take-aways that I marked in her novel “On Writers and Writing” :

  • “A lot of people do have a book in them – that is, they have had an experience that other people might want to read about. But this is not the same as ‘being a writer.’ Or, to put it in a more sinister way:  everyone can dig a hole in a cemetery, but not everyone is a grave-digger.”
  • All writers have a diagnosed condition:  Duplicity. With a capitol “D.” While this could easily be understood in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde reference, I enjoy Atwood’s explanation of it. “What disembodied hand or invisible monster just wrote that cold-blooded comment? Surely it wasn’t me; I am a nice, cosy sort of person, a bit absent-minded, a dab hand at cookies, beloved by domestic animals, and a knitter of sweaters with arms that are too long. Anyway, that cold-blooded comment was a couple lines ago. That was then, this is now, you never step twice into the same paragraph, and when I typed out that sentence I wasn’t myself.”
  • “The composition of a novel may be one part inspiration and nine parts perspiration, but that one part inspiration is essential if the work is to live as art.”
  • Writer: “Why this self-loathing? Perhaps it’s the gap between the image – inherited from the Romantics – and the reality. what will the glorious dead, the giants of literature, make of the ninety-pound-weakling descendants?”
  • “There is never any shortage of people who can think up good things for you to do which are not the same as the things you are good at.”
  • “Publishing a book is often very much like being put on trial, for some offense which is quite other than the one you know in your heart you’ve committed. They [critics] know there’s a body buried somewhere, and they’re keen to dig it up, and then to hunt you down. Trouble is, it’s not usually the right body.”
  • “It isn’t the writer who decides whether or not his work is relevant. Instead it’s the reader.”
  • Reader:  “A spy, a trespasser, someone in the habit of reading other people’s letters and diaries. As Northrop Frye has implied, the reader does not hear, he overhears.”
  • “How many writer have put on other faces, or had other faces thrust upon them, and then been unable to get them off?”
  • “The act of reading is just as singular – always – as the act of writing.”
  • “Going into a narrative – into the narrative process – is a dark road. You can’t see your way ahead. Poets know this too; they too travel the dark roads. The well of inspiration is a hole that leads downwards.”

 

As always, thank you Atwood for your friendly, and yet terrifying, mirror that you hold out for all writers (and society). I read this, warm with laughter at her mindset around the writer and the reader, and as I tucked it back into my bookshelf, I shuddered from the bitter cold this road may prove to be. Luckily, I am not far from the ocean should I need to warm my toes. Only this is laughable still, as it would be in Pacific waters.

XOXO

A Perfect Perspective

49th Trial: What sentiments have I not already covered?

Weekly Hours Spent Writing or in the Pursuit of Plot:  2hr

Weekly Choice of Tea: Turmeric and Ginger

Biggest Success: To date, my work-in-progress is 70 pages typed

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I am a Chiropractor living in San Francisco, not far from the famed painted ladies of Alamo Square. I have started slowly writing my novel, a life goal of mine that seems to share the over-cramped room of my Ambition with other careers, other desires, and other interests. Currently, my tongue is raw from a pack of sour patch kids and my Alice in Wonderland mug is steeping tea. These are the hard facts for the start of 2017 and for my first yearly blog post. Might I remind all readers that this blog is to hold myself accountable to the purpose of my writing, as well as a faithful narrative of my journey. If only there were a way to hold myself accountable for up-keeping the blog…

2017 has started as most of my years do:   an outburst of all that I want to accomplish, followed by a deep, long stare, which inevitably sinks me into a state of mild depression. So, what will I do with the challenges I have placed at my doorstep? I’m willing to tell ya. I’m wanting to tell ya. I’m waiting to tell ya!!!

My first action step was to feed the lethargy with Gilmore Girl episodes, and luckily I did so. There was a moment in the episode that illustrated how perfect, the perfect perspective can be. To accomplish any dream or desire, is to simply fall in love with it. Become in awe of it. Be humbled by it. I am not a writer because Jane Austen or the Bronte sisters inspired it. I am a writer because I am a part of their legacy. We, non of us, are our own stories that do not share the stories of everyone around us or before us. My time on this planet is minuscule, and the importance of my novel even less. However, I have contributed to the inhalation and exhalation of San Francisco’s eclectic city as it builds and progresses. Every patient of mine has allowed me to become a part of their health. I get the distinct pleasure of sitting in the front row seats of Jamie’s life and that of Boo Radley’s.  I write to support the love and legacy of literature. Those thoughts alone bring purpose to itself.

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To Write a Love Story is Certain

23rd Trial: Controlling the absolute jealousy of the literary genius, Charlotte Bronte

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 1 Hour

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chamomile

Biggest Success: Began Chapter 5! Enjoying the fall that surrounds me

As I have mentioned in posts prior, what do you say about your novel when asked about it? In one word or sentence can you sum something like that up? It is about Hope. Family. Philosophy. To write an epic love story is certain. I have begun to read “Villette” by Charlotte Bronte, a novel that is sadly shadowed by her more successful “Jane Eyre”. I am enjoying the perception of the main heroine of this story, as it displays the dark behind the events and people. No surprise there. The Bronte sisters are literary ninjas at mixing piety with sin, madness with love, and the shadows cast by a sunny day. In “Villette”, every moment has a balance. I am not overly happy for one circumstance, nor overly without hope at the same time. Young Lucy Snowe has an intelligent observation of people in their interactions, as well as in her own misfortunes. I read and felt a familiarity with this particular sentence:

“This I can now see and say–if few women have suffered as I did in his loss, few have enjoyed what I did in his love. It was a far better kind of love than common; I had no doubts about it or him: it was a love as honored, protected, and elevated, no less than it gladdened her to whom it was  given.”

I find this amusing in a way, as much as it is heartfelt and lovely. How certain am I that my life will encompass a great love? And my novel, the love story should be nothing short of timeless, and set apart from a perceived commonality of unions between two people! However, what does Charlotte mean by this comparison of common love and the elevated type? How can one set them apart, being the observer of other’s and the direct subject of but one? I find it intriguing to not define a romance so that no one could ever experience it, viewing it only as a fairy-tale;  but to illustrate the belief that many have actually found that true companion. It is not hard for me to imagine an elevated love, a love like no other, being a common thing. It happens under so many guises, as so many masterpieces happen with different pens and strokes. I have always dreamed of Mr. Darcy, walking to me with his long billowing tailcoat whipping behind him in his passionate haste to see me. And yet in my age, where tailcoats are not the height of fashion, exposure to many people through internet, transportation, and employment have created a stage very different from my fantasies. Moreover, who knew that my Mr. Darcy could very well be a misses? That begin said, my reality, though different, is as elevated in my estimation as the hearts bound within the novels I read. What I intend to write can be nothing more than the love and life that you, reader, experience on a daily basis. If I can but make you sense and feel the incredible story that surrounds you, I would have a purpose indeed!

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When a Chapter Ends

21th Trial: I have no trials pertaining to my writing, as my struggles have been solely lugging moving boxes to our new place and minimalizing my lifestyle. Live big, dream big, and apparently horde big.

Weekly hours spent writing or in the pursuit of plot: 0 Hours

Weekly Choice of Tea: Chamomile

Biggest Success: Beginning a new chapter! (not in my novel, though!)

I deeply apologize for not writing to you all last week, my days have not been my own! I was finally able to take a break from cleaning, packing, and moving these past couple weeks and go to the Renaissance Festival. How one day at that place can amuse and inspire!! The English accents, the royal garb, and of course, the Jousting were elements to make quite the enjoyable day. I looked at the armor they wore, and immediately remembered my tour at the Tower of London. “Yes, they made that piece larger for Henry VIII because at that time he was infested with Syphilis,” was what the tour guide said, and it was that very voice that sounded in my mind as I sat in the chilly fall weather, grinning happily into my cup of tea. The day came and went, I ate my cinnamon almonds and looked longingly at Celtic jewelry. All around me people enjoyed the fantasy of a different time, and I myself felt a shift in space and time. Not just because I was sitting next to crowns, canes, and capes, but because I am ending one chapter in my life.

Jamie and I have moved out of our apartment and in with a friend. I feel as though cleaning out the closets only gives the opportunity for something new and fresh. Boo Radley (my dog) for one, has a yard now, and a neighborhood to run amuck. One of the last thoughts as I left the apartment was that this was the start of so much, a start that is now to be carried elsewhere. I began my novel here. By those long windows the sun and trees watched the first word written, and now I will not have that comfortable space to write and create the way I did. I know that it means I will just have to find a new place, however the ending of a chapter is always to be mourned, admired, and remembered. When a chapter ends in my novel I celebrate, as if I jumped another hurdle to the finish line. I also marvel at its completion, like I never thought I would be at this place, at this time, at this new height. I am at a new place, beginning a new chapter. It’s the start of a great one, I can feel it. And it will be the beginning of chapter five. Stay tuned 🙂

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