The Warrior Writer

I’ve been reading advice on writing from various sources and the consensus seems to be; write first-thing in the morning. Apparently, that’s what many of the great writers do. Some wake up around 5:30 or even before and get right to work.

I pretty much always wake up early. Often before dawn. But unlike the great writers I’ve been reading about, I usually linger in bed waiting until the last possible minute before I need to leave for work, and then rush around to get ready.

One morning this week, as soon as I woke up, I decided to get up, brush my teeth, get dressed, and head downstairs to write. I had about two hours to write if I was to leave at my usual time.

I grabbed a glass of water with ice, and my laptop. I sat on the couch and started working on The Creeplies.

I was doing it! What I was writing was maybe not great, but I was doing it like the greats!

I was able to write for a full hour before I started to doze off. I turned off my laptop and took a nap on the couch. I figured I’d wake up when Chris would come downstairs to leave for work.

Although it wasn’t the perfect writing session, it was definitely a good start. I’m sure I can get used to this routine without even needing to nap.

When Chris came downstairs, I woke up. We talked a little, hugged, kissed goodbye. I drank my coffee, had a bagel, and then left for work.

As I was leaving home, there was a soft, light, fluffy, slow snow falling. The magical kind.

I got in my car, put on an audio book on writing, and drove off.

I was very much at peace. The romantic “life-is-wonderful” type of peace. I was even happy there was traffic because it meant I could enjoy more of the audiobook. Traffic usually makes me grumpy.

While I was driving, the woman narrating the audiobook was describing how writers typically feel when they sit down to write. She’s describing the doubt and self-loathing and struggle they may feel before being able to get a few words down. I tried to remember how I was feeling this morning when I was writing.

Immediately, I heard the deafening scream of a warrior as she was charging into battle. I could actually see her furrowed brow, her crazy eyes, her mouth stretched out in the scream. Her wild long brown hair dancing in the wind. Her right arm above her head wielding a heavy wooden caveman type club ready to clobber her opponent. I love that image! A warrior writer!

The rest of the morning was all pleasant conversations and compliments.

Now I don’t know if the early morning writing was responsible for the great start to my day, but I’ll definitely work on making it a habit, summon the warrior writer, and see what happens.

Stephen King On Writing

Alright, for some reason, King’s work has been on my path lately.

I started following him (and a few other authors I could think of) on Twitter when I decided to take my writing seriously. I figured I should surround myself, even if it was just virtually, with other writers. And I’m glad I did, because one of his tweets inspired a story (which is still simmering).

On Writing came up often as recommended reading for me in 2017. So I bought it and it’s the first one I read from my 2018 reading list.

And now, from reading it, three things have happened:

  1. I want to read more.
  2. I want to read more of his stuff.
  3. I now feel I have permission to write what and how I want.

I’m not usually drawn to the genre of fiction he writes. But I quite enjoyed his writing style. I want more!

The first part of On Writing is a sort of brief biography on how he got into writing. He has a sort of disclaimer at the beginning saying that he only remembers snippets of his childhood, so that’s what and how he wrote it. Reading that lifted a self-imposed weight from my shoulders.

Where did that weight come from?

Well, one piece of advice I’ve read on writing (from a few different sources) suggests to practice by writing about your life. That’s always sort of stopped me in my tracks. I don’t think that I could write all of my life story with great accuracy. So, since I don’t expect to write it perfectly, I haven’t even been able to start writing it at all.

However, King wrote what he remembered of his childhood. And as I was reading, I started to see how I could do something similar with my life story. In fact, some of his memories triggered some of mine. They’re not even similar, but nevertheless, they were triggered.

Ah! Maybe I’m starting to sound like a weirdo?

I’m not obsessing over King. He just happens to be one of the current muses. And who cares where inspiration comes from, as long as it comes. Right?

My commitment to my poor neglected unread books

A few days ago before Christmas, I ordered two shiny new books.

After I ordered them, I started thinking about all of the other books my partner and I already own that I haven’t read.

I felt guilty.

No. Not guilty. But rather, a little sad for these poor neglected unread books who are just sitting there patiently waiting for me to read them.

I promised I would.

So yesterday, I received and unpacked my freshly delivered new books. Then, I went around the house to gather the books I’ve been meaning to read.

In the spirit of new beginnings with the arrival of the new year and all that jazz, I decided to commit to reading these books before the end of 2018.

I’ll keep them separate from the other books so that they’ll be there. Together. Staring me in the FACE every time I walk by. Reminding me of my commitment.

The list:

  • La chasse-galerie by Honoré Beaugrand
  • Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
  • The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
  • Petit cours d’autodéfense intellectuelle by Normand Baillargeon
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
  • The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  • On Writing by Steven King
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Man Who Made Us by Richard Gwyn
  • Nation Maker by Richard Gwyn

I don’t expect to understand the one by Stephen Hawking, but I’m curious and want to try.

Four of these books I had started but never finished. So I’m committing to finish reading them this year.

Now, looking at this list, I realize that there is only one tiny book of fiction out of the ten.

I suppose if I want to write fiction, I should probably read more fiction.

So here’s another commitment: I will follow up every non-fiction book with one of fiction. I’m not sure which ones they’ll be. I’ll decide that as I go along.

I welcome any suggestions—in French or English.

Writing challenge

It’s 9:18 PM on Wednesday, November 1, 2017. Chet Baker is playing in the background. I’m sitting at the computer by candlelight. I am trying to meet my self-imposed challenge—to write.

This past weekend, I decided (again) to try to better myself and take charge of certain areas of my life (again). Writing for at least 20 minutes every day is one of those challenges.

But I don’t know where to start. I look at my works in progress, and I’m not sure which one I should focus on. So, I start yet another piece. This one.

I guess the point is to write. Whatever I write.

You may be thinking that someone who claims to be a writer shouldn’t have to challenge themselves to write. Well, I do.

I work with words all day. Even more so lately. I write. I edit. I translate. I review.

Although I’m allowed certain creativity at work, it’s government work. They are not MY words. They are the government’s words. They are not MY thoughts. They are the government’s thoughts. I just have to convey them as well as I can. And, most importantly, I have deadlines.

This, my creative work, is all me. I answer only to myself. If I don’t impose my own challenges and deadlines, there is minimal to no creation. Hence, the self-imposed writing challenge.

How do I keep myself accountable? I just track it. I’m one of those people who’s gotten into that whole bullet-journal thing. I’m not even consistent with that. However, unlike anything else I’ve ever tried before, this works for me (when I use it). And I keep going back to the same one I started in February 2017. The flexibility and “easy-goingness” of this type of journaling makes me feel alright about going back to my half-filled notebook.

I’ve been known to abandon a perfectly fine notebook because I had used up 10 or so pages, but didn’t like the direction I was going in. However, with a bullet journal, I feel free to be as disjointed as I want. I know, there was nothing stopping me from taking this type of approach before with previous notebooks except my own mindset.

Anyway, my raspberry-coloured bullet journal is where I track my writing challenge, along with my other challenges.

My hope is to discipline myself enough where creative writing just becomes as much of a normal routine as brushing my teeth. Or even more primitive than that, as normal and necessary as relieving myself. Ewww! Sorry about that. But you get what I mean.

As I sit here writing, I notice that I’ve met and even surpassed my self-imposed 20-minute writing challenge and I wonder why this hasn’t already become a normal routine. Even though this piece is somewhat disjointed (and I won’t even edit it anymore than I’m doing as I write it), writing is such a luxurious pleasure!

I don’t know if luxurious pleasure is quite the right way to describe it, but it’s all I can think of right now.

Ah! If I keep at it, I’m sure (I hope) I’ll improve my writing style and become better at expressing my thoughts. But for tonight, this rough, unpolished piece is what I’m posting for anyone to read.

Hopefully, despite this piece, you’ll stick around to see how my writing challenge helps me improve my prose.


Summer break

This summer I took 40 days off of work. I had planned to rest and write. I wanted to finish the first draft of The Novel, or at the very least make progress on my non-fiction book My journey to simplicity.

Instead, I ended up needing more rest than I thought. I’ve learned a while ago that I really need to listen to my body. If it’s asking for rest, I must oblige.

Although I did write a little, my summer vacation was mostly filled with relaxing days at home and crochet, with a little weekend travel and camping mixed in here and there.

I crocheted blankets and hats. Crochet was still a creative way to spend my time. And I love how happy my creations made the people who received them. I’m still surprised at people’s reactions to my gifts of crochet.

Anyway, now I’m back! Back to work, and back to writing!

Hopefully, I’ll have a new piece or two to share with you in the next few weeks or months.

Until next time!