This is what I have been going through the past few days; files and piles of writing “stuff.” While the original purpose of my ‘sort and purge’ was for inspiration, it has also served as a form of procrastination. (ie. spending time laying it out on the floor and taking a picture)
The black leather bag in the right hand side of the picture was what I carried with me everywhere for the two years I worked on my cancer book. I took it with me to every chemotherapy treatment David had. I even brought it to the hospital during the 11 days he recovered from surgery since he often fell asleep during my visit. I always wrote my rough drafts on legal size pads of paper. I probably went through 10-12 pads before I finished the book. The rough drafts were typed onto the computer, then printed out and worked on again. I made revisions on the computer document, then printed it out again. I still write this way; from legal pad to computer. My rough drafts are always on paper and are a mess. I write as fast as I can, crossing things out and writing in the margins. No one but me could possibly decipher what I’ve written, and even I have problems occasionally.
The black zipper case in the left-hand side of the photo holds a partially completed manuscript for a book about coupon use. The colorful file folders behind it are full of research. I’d like to get inspired about this book again but I lost the enthusiasm for it around the same time I realized that my other book was in the hands of a publisher I couldn’t trust. By pulling everything out again and looking through it, I can see there is potential there for a good book, if I can just get excited about it again.
When I write in the living room curled up on a chair or the couch, I use a clipboard to hold whatever I am working on. My friend Jacki gave me the lovely flower print clipboard which I use for writing letters or articles. I have a huge stack of unpublished essays, calls for submissions I’ve printed out and pages I’ve been working on. This is what I fill a tote with if I go somewhere to write. Last summer when I rode bikes with the girls in the evening I would take a tote bag of writing with me, along with a clipboard and pen and work on something while they played on a playground. I take time for writing whenever and wherever I can.
Inspiration is the easy part of writing for me. I’ve never experienced writer’s block. There is no end of ideas with me. Instead, I have too many; file folders with magazine articles in that I ripped out, notebooks with kernels of wisdom jotted down. All I have to do is look around me for ideas; the act of mothering alone is rife with inspiration.
The hard work, the perspiration so to speak, comes in the writing. Depending upon what I am writing, it can either come easily, or feel as though I am bleeding out of every pore. My very best writing can be effortless as if with divine inspiration, or heart-wrenching with dozens of revisions needed. I never know when I begin which it will be.
All of the writing I do is a breeze compared to what I must do in order to sell it: write proposals, query letters and send out submissions. Even on the worst of days when I think I don’t have anything else to say or I’m not sure what to work on next, I can write. If nothing else, I “warm up” by writing a letter or a blog post. But when it comes to getting my writing submitted somewhere I don’t always do so well. I labor over head letters and put off writing queries. Just clicking on the “send” button can take tremendous effort.
Maybe part of that is that as I haven’t sent my piece out, it can’t be rejected.
And maybe it is just procrastination.
Whatever it is, I am doing it now.