I started a class this week. It’s online, it’s only a month, it’s chock full of great information, and it’s kicking my ass.
If there were a job that required me to be a professional student, I would be one of the best in the world. I would be on the cover of Professional Student Magazine what with my glasses and my notebooks and my sticky notes. I love the structure, the process, the requirements, the syllabus, the highlighting and the figuring out my time.
And this? Is a writing class! I get to be weird and do the writing and be weird in my weird writing and write weirdly! I love being weird in my writing and not worrying about it.
The first day of the course, I set the alarm to an hour earlier than usual (which means I’m getting up at 4). I started reading the lecture notes, which I’d printed out because I’ve learned that using my Bic Brite Liner on my computer screen isn’t as effective as you may think.
I watched all the videos, I read the attachments. I got about a quarter of the way through the lecture in one hour. That’s all I could devote to it Monday. Yesterday, ninety minutes. And today I’ll start the actual assignment that is due Sunday.
I’m excited and I’ve already learned a lot just from the lecture.
But did you catch that part about getting up at 4? That’s the only way I can show up and do the work right now. Days are full. I’m flipping cranky though and having to do the ordinary things, like feed my family, feel mildly offensive. Like, How can you want breakfast again?! I just gave you breakfast yesterday. What do you mean there are no bananas? I have to go to the store? Now? Today? I hate the store!
I know the class will be fine. And I’ll be fine. And my writing will be fine and my responding to other students will be fine. All good and fruitful.
But I’m fighting a small internal battle that I need to settle into and acknowledge before I pick up my scribbler and make the words on the page thing happen.
I’m really slow these days, er, years. I used to be a fast and prolific writer. I’m no longer either. Some of that is exhaustion. Some of that is life stage – I am, like so many others in the sandwich generation, pulled. But…the ideas for the last few years? Those have been stuck in the cerebral muck, sticking out brown and muted and covered in ooze. If I’m lucky, I spot them and pull hard. They are slippery little shits and pull back from my grip. If I do manage to yank a healthy one out of the brain garden, it’s often just a chunk, with the remainder having snapped back into the quicksand. I have to patch and repair and rebuild and only then actually begin to write.
There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how many writers function.
It’s just that I used to have the might to yank them out, and they emerged smooth and full and glistening. They were easy to spot, too. PICK ME! TAKE ME! HERE I AM – so many shiny ideas. An entire garden.
*The wind whispers* The class is the answer.
I take this class, in part, to plant some seeds, some shiny new ideas will grow. That’s how it works.
Also, (and this is key) I did go to the store. The Easter candy is there. Everything is coming up Cadbury.
This week in noveling:
I’m structuring the novel and making sure I hit the important plot points at the right times in the appropriate areas. In other words, if we don’t hit the climax at around the 88% mark, the story feels off and the ending rushed. That sort of thing. This is based timeless human understanding of a story, our sense of pace and timing that has been established since we sat around caves sharing giant hunks of meat and telling stories around campfires.
There are still four characters I need to flesh out and they are hiding from me right now—probably off having mimosas and sushi somewhere. I need to chase them down and get them talking.
All those notes I wrote to myself during the first draft now are being called in. “Research this!” I wrote all over my draft. Now is the time.
After that, it’s time for radical surgery on parts of the story and then drafting new parts. Frankenwriting.
Next week, I start rewriting from page one.
I also have a few essays I’m trying to draft by end of week.
Needless to say, the days are full and powered by crème eggs.