Posted in writing

Inspiration, Perspiration, or Procrastination?

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 I have a huge stack of unpublished essays, calls for submissions I’ve printed out and pages I’ve been working on.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.

Author:

Author, public speaker, and workshop presenter for community colleges, libraries, women's groups and for grief support groups, Hospice and retreats. Reporter for the Manchester Press newspaper and popular public speaker and workshop presenter on the topics of writing and finding hope in grief. "Coupon Crazy: The Science, the Savings, and the Stories Behind America's Extreme Obsession" was published by Familius Publishing in 2014. "Chemo-Therapist: How Cancer Cured a Marriage" and "Refined By Fire: A Journey of Grief and Grace" were released by Familius in 2014. "Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink," co-written with Mary Jedlicka Humston of Iowa City, was published in September 2015.

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