Enjoy the ride

Enjoy the ride

“There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. You never quite know where they’ll take you.” – Beatrix Potter

As a person who loves to travel I have always been a firm believer that a trip should not be so much about the destination but about enjoying the journey itself. And now it would seem that this belief has crossed over into my writing journey as well.

At first my main focus was to finish the first draft of my manuscript. I worked out a word count schedule to get me there, did character layouts and a detailed story outline. But now I find that the more I write, the more I am taking pleasure in the actual creative process of watching my characters develop and seeing the story take shape.

I have developed an appreciation for where I am in my story right now instead of focusing on how far I still have to go and in freeing my mind in this way it has opened the creative door wider than I ever thought possible. In ignoring the pressure to be productive I have become more creative and find myself often writing far more than what my original word count goals prescribed. And then, occasionally, I write less… yet feel the same sense of triumph for the day’s work.

Most of us live as though there aren’t enough hours in the day, putting pressure on ourselves to complete tasks as quickly as possible but if we do each thing calmly and with the passion it deserves it will get done faster and with much less stress. I want to enjoy the adventure of writing this manuscript as much as I am hoping to experience a sense of fulfilment once it is completed.

Now is the time to enjoy being ‘here’ without the stress of rushing ‘there’.

“The function of the first daft is to help you figure out your story. The function of every draft after that is to figure out the most dramatic way to tell that story.” – Darcy Pattinson

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Local is Lekker

Local is Lekker

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.” – Jack Kerouac

Today’s post is a “2 parter”…

 PART 1

 “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.” – Elmore Leonard

 Isn’t it weird how answers can sometimes come to a person at the strangest times? Saturday morning, while vacuuming the lounge, it came to me, an answer to a question I hadn’t really even asked myself.

Although I have felt like there is something missing from my writing, I haven’t been able to quite put my finger on it, so I have just kept writing. I often think back on all the quotes I have read saying that there is no limit to how rough a first draft can be or that a first draft is just you telling yourself the story, so I guess in the back of my mind I thought all the missing pieces would fall into place during the editing phases.

But there it was, on a random Saturday morning, between the noise of the vacuum cleaner and sound of my little people’s laughter, the answer to what’s missing. I have set this particular story locally. But what I have not added in or made part of my writing, is the local flavour, the ‘what makes us unique as a people’ aspect. So although I had promised myself not to edit or rewrite until I was done with the first draft, I rolled up my sleeves (metaphorically of course) and got stuck in adding in that missing South African essence.

I feel like this has been a breakthrough in not only my current project but with my discarded writing from years ago. My characters have come to life and my inspiration is intensified. Now all I want to do is write, write and write some more.

 PART 2

 “Don’t classify me, read me. I’m a writer, not a genre.” – Carlos Fuentes

Yes, I am busy with a project now. And yes, I definitely plan to see it through to the very end. And again yes, my note book is filled with ideas and notes on future writing projects but… there has been something playing on my mind.

Although I read many genres I have two favourites – as I am sure all readers do – which are thrillers and fantasy. But here’s the thing – I write neither thrillers nor fantasy. So here is a question for the writers out there – do yours differ? Is what you read different from what you write?

I am currently reading A Game of Thrones by George R R Martin (no, I have not watched the series) and I find myself wondering, how would I do at writing fantasy? There seems to be so much more that goes into the planning than with “regular” fiction, for example the world creation.

So as I sit here, more inspired and determined than ever before, in terms of my writing anyway, I wonder to myself if it is time to leave my comfort zone and explore other genres of writing? Please advise me oh wise and wonderful writers of the blogiverse, is writing more than one genre advisable?

“I write across several genres. I’m a slut for words. I can’t keep it in my literary pants.” – Fierce Dolan

Mission : Not Impossible

Mission : Not Impossible

“Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.” – F Scott Fitzgerald

Sometimes all we need is a fresh start. Yesterday was a turning point in my journey, admitting to myself that my writing which I have not looked at or worked on in years may no longer hold relevance in who I am today. I sat with the manuscript on my desk, looking at it, procrastinating once again, when it hit me… What the fuck am I doing? It was a life time ago that I wrote this. It was a different time. A different place. And I was a different person. So much has changed between then and now.

I picked up my notebook with a sense of excitement. I thought it may be a challenge to decide which of my ideas I was going to go with but it was like it chose itself, the right story at the right time.

So as my kiddies slept soundly, good night messages sent to all the relevant people and my cell phone turned to silent, I finally did it and put pen to paper and when I was done for the night? The layout for my new project sat before me. It felt like a dream – losing myself in the process of creation. Already having the idea for where I want the story to go, I brainstormed everything about my characters, from appearance to goals and motivations. Important relationships were established. Homes were built and living conditions determined. Strengths, habits and mannerisms were instilled. Any element that may hold bearing at some point in my story were jotted down. My excitement grew as the base for my story grew.

Tonight? Tonight I will start writing. My goals are set. As I have read so many times, if you want to be a writer then WRITE!

And although I know I should have finished what I started, I could not let the past hold me back. This journey deserves something fresh, something that will move me forward. So today, despite the lack of sleep, I feel energised.

And the score? Jill 2 – Procrastination 0!!

Novelist vs Tinkerer

Novelist vs Tinkerer

“The difference between a novelist and someone who tinkers around with writing is this: novelists finish their books.” Nancy Etchemendy

Confession: I am a tinkerer. Not something I am really happy to admit, but the first step of growth is to become aware of our own bullshit.

When I made the decision to put everything into restarting this journey of making my love of writing the priority it so very much deserves to be, I decided to start by printing out all my old work – some of the drafts dating back 20 years. I have two draft manuscripts completed but never edited and numerous others which I have started but never done the justice of completing. Next confession… I have not written, as in actually sat down and written 500 – 1000 words a day for about 5 years. The reason why is a story for another day.

The last few weeks I have spent auditing these unfinished works. Making notes, endless notes, on what has the budding potential for completion and what could be used towards new works which I have planned. The next step is to make my way through the two completed draft manuscripts – the question is – how to decide if they should be pursued to completion or if they should be once again shelved until the day comes that my full interest in them is renewed?

I ask the question, but I think I already know the answer. My notebook is overflowing with potential projects and I am bursting with inspiration like I haven’t been for years. It is time for a change – a change from tinkerer to novelist. My goals are set. My passion rekindled. And although my inner procrastinator is pleading with me, exhausting the old “where will I find the time” excuses, I will not be overcome. Not this time.

“A goal should scare you a little, and excite you A LOT.” – Joe Vitale

Time…

Time…

“Time is what we want the most, but we use the worst” – William Penn

I find myself wishing, almost on a nightly basis, that there were more hours in the day. My day generally starts around 5am. I get ready for work. Get my kiddies ready for day-care. Make the trip between home and my office. I love the drive. Early morning sunlight over sugarcane fields, good music and the sound of my little ones chatting and laughing from the back of the car. A time for reflection and, sometimes, mental list making for the day ahead.

Once I walk into the building my day flies by in a blur of activity. Although my days are busy, I can’t really say that I hate my job. Our office is animated. My colleagues accustomed to my somewhat colourful vocabulary and loud ways. We laugh, chat and joke in between doing the tasks for which we are paid. I keep my notebook close and regularly find myself jotting down ideas or having little brainstorming sessions when my mind is roused by something I have seen, heard or read.

Between leaving work and the kids finally going to sleep, I find myself anxiously awaiting the house to fall into that soothing silence when I know, that finally, my time is my own. I try and get as much done in those limited hours before I am too exhausted to think straight and head to the comfort of my bed for a few hours of rest before I once again have to awake for the start of a new day.

For years I have used time, or the lack thereof, as my standing excuse for not putting pen to paper, justifying side-lining my passion for writing on the fact that I was too busy with work, studying and being a mom. One night sitting, feet up, phone in hand, a picture quote in my newsfeed jumped out at me – “If you have time to go on Instagram then trust me… you’re not ‘too busy’…” I actually felt guilty, like the post was aimed directly at me.

How often we spend hours, literally hours, on scrolling aimlessly through newsfeeds on Facebook or watching episode after episode of some popular series. No more!! I know now, that time is not my enemy, my use of it is. I am an enemy of my own progress. Now I am taking each day as it comes. Some days are more productive than others, but any progress is a step closer to reaching my goals and following my passion.

Do you have any tips on finding time to fit it all in, duties, life and writing? Please share.

First Post

First Post

“When I’m writing, I know I’m doing the thing I was born to do.” – Anne Sexton

Why a blog? This is a question I have asked myself many times over the past few weeks. An old acquaintance, somewhat of a short-lived writing mentor, once suggested to me that I should start a blog – for no other reason than to get back into the practice of making time to write.

I have procrastinated over it for months. Pondering over what I would write about. Allowing insecurity to set in, questioning myself as to whether anyone would even want to follow me and read what I have to write.

Then last week I finally took the first step – well, I did what I do best… I researched it. Wow. I was left somewhat stunned. I had no idea that blog sites were so complex – One googled article warning not to be intimidated by WordPress, to stick to it and with time it would become more easily accessible. I read the endless articles on tips for beginner bloggers and finally it was one tip that stood out from the rest – Don’t overthink it, just write your first post and hit the publish button.

So here I am. Hello Blogiverse. And welcome to what I hope will be an entertaining addition to your feed. The journey of an unapologetically potty-mouth, single mother who works full-time (with politicians no less) while she completes her degree and mentally wrestles against her epic inner procrastinator to masters her goals as an aspiring writer.

And now as I sit here and end off my first blog post, I know that no matter how long I have travelled in the wrong direction, it is never too late to turn around. I feel a sense of accomplishment – one point to me and zero points to the inner procrastinator.

P.S. Parental Guidance Warning – Although this post is oddly enough profanity free, I cannot guarantee the same of future posts 😉