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What, are you writing a book?

14/02/2011

Boy, do I love blogging. I may not be the best at churning out a post a day, but on average I’m more than keeping up thanks to those days when I can put out three and four posts without breaking a sweat. Sometimes it’s just that nothing in the news catches my eye in that “Oh, I must blog about this” sort of way. Part of that, of course, is that I refuse to conform to one specific topic or another — but that’s my prerogative, as I have a lot to say about a lot of things. Regardless, generally once I get started with a post I don’t have a difficult time phrasing things just so and getting my point across.

Not so, apparently, with writing a novel. I set a goal two weeks ago that I would write no less than 40 rough pages per month, starting this month, so that by the end of 2011 I would have 440 pages of material with which to work. Thanks to my mile-wide procrastination streak, my unwillingness to shut myself off from the world (which seems to be the only way I can write for long stretches) and an uncooperative lifestyle, my grand total of pages thus far is… 1/2 page.

That’s right: I haven’t even pulled together an entire page of questionable writing to critique or shove into a drawer beneath other literary efforts. In my defense, I’ve started to go cross-eyed whenever presented with a pen and anything other than a puzzle book yet I clung fervently to my conviction that “writing it on a computer just won’t be the same.” I wanted that old-school feel of putting pen to paper, just letting the creative juices flow and going from there.

As it turns out, that way of thinking just isn’t compatible with my lifestyle. I spend 8 hours a day, five days a week with my nose stuck into two monitors, and when I go home I have at least an hour of computer time between making/eating dinner and having “couple time” with Brian — oh, and there’s that whole packing thing with which to contend as well…

(Side note: We sign our lease on Monday! Joy and rapture!)

Ahem. As I was saying, eking out an hour a day to spend writing is difficult enough, but perhaps I’m overcomplicating it with my insistence on using a medium that doesn’t fit well into my life. After all, I can access a computer almost anywhere — I have a laptop, I use a desktop at work, and if all else fails I can (gasp) pound out a few thoughts using my cell phone. So, perhaps instead of putting the ‘puter aside and picking up the notebook I should simply refocus my attention whilst using the computer — make it my friend, instead of my foe.

Using the computer, I found while writing today, is useful for other reasons. First, I am terrible at the concept of freewriting. The born editor in me refuses to let a weak or downright awful line go without some tweaking (in my case, several rounds of tweaking), so an hour of uninterrupted writing is pretty much impossible. I tend to settle for a few good-ish paragraphs as a happy medium.

Second, although I’m writing a novel I want the facts behind it to be as accurate as possible — down to the clothing my characters wear and the cadence of their speech. The Web, as we know, literally puts hundreds of thousands of resources at your fingertips and allows for on-the-spot fact-checking. If I’m going to describe an outfit I would rather pull up a page that allows me to get it right the first time than leave the corrections to the editorial process — what if, once I find an editor, s/he is unversed in period fashion and doesn’t think to question the small details?

Yes, yes, I know — a story shouldn’t be mired in the small details or else it is likely doomed to failure. A small mistake here and there may be excused. However, I am a perfectionist and if I want my central character to wear velvet, then I’m going to make sure that she’s allowed to wear it before I write it.

So…*le tres sigh*…I suppose it’s yet even more time chained to a computer for me. I do have two more weeks to pull 39 1/2 pages out of my brain, and this is one goal that I am not going to see fade into the calendar unachieved.

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