Last week I began the process of putting some writing resolutions to paper, so to speak. The fact that it's a two-week process is probably some kind of indication about my level of commitment phobia. But holding out much longer than this week's column makes the idea of writing about resolutions seem redundant. It would also require me to write something else.
See last week's column about how much work I've been willing to do these past couple of weeks.
So what kind of resolutions should a writer be making, especially one who has written so frequently in the past year about writer's block?
For starters, I've had an epiphany of sorts (I know I've had previous epiphanies but this one seems kind of big): writing is work.
This fact should seem self-evident but it's an element of which I seem to have lost track over the past couple of years. I have previously described W3.doc as the book that was more or less supposed to write itself, so sure was I in the story as it came to me. And, of course, it hasn't happened. There is probably some sort of inversely proportional cosmic relationship between my original confidence in the story and the difficulty I'm having bringing it to fruition. It has had the perverse effect of having me doubt the story itself (that's a post unto itself - stay tuned).
But the simple fact (apparently epiphanies can be simple) is that no, stories don't write themselves, and it seems I've been sitting waiting for the words to be so pressured up at the top of the bottle they're simply waiting for me to pop the cork so they can come spilling out. Intellectually, I know this: while I look back at Deadly Lessons with rose-coloured glasses, as though it more or less spilled out of me into the word processor, I'm sure that there were more moments of frustration in that writing than I can recall. Certainly I know that Last Dance went weeks and occasionally months during which I never went near it and was ready to abandon it on numerous occasions.
A key part of the frustration for me surely stems from how anxious I was to write this book, even when I was in the middle of Last Dance, it's disappointing that I'm now experiencing as much difficulty in the middle portion as I am. I can at least take comfort in the fact that for all the mental anguish Last Dance caused me, according to nearly all the reviews it came out all right - in fact some claim to like it better than Deadly Lessons, the book that in my memory came as close to effortless writing. I'm trying to take solace in the idea that maybe anguish pays off in the end product.
So what do I resolve?
Since most resolutions fail due to their unrealistic nature, I need to keep my expectations manageable but not miniscule. My friend and colleague posted a link to these resolutions for writers article, which seems a good place to start. To some, certainly to me it probably ought, it seems a bit back-to-basics: setting aside twenty minutes per day for writing. Twenty minutes. That should be easily achievable for a writer who has already written and published two books, right?
But the reality is I haven't been. Maybe a back to basics regime could prove beneficial in the short term to get the juices flowing (as a borderline OCD sufferer, that's a metaphor I find disturbing so I'll keep its image fresh in mind). I have my 2014 Telus calendar at the ready to put big colourful X's through each day I meet the modest goal.
More boldly, if somewhat less concretely, I also have the following plans:
a) I will complete the draft of W3.doc during this calendar year. I know, I know, that's still pretty vague, especially considering my initial submission was planned to be December 31....2012. My ideal goal would be to have the draft complete prior to going to Costa Rica in March so I can be reading it over as opposed to writing on it while enjoying our temporary beach paradise home. But if I don't make it (sigh - day job and SFU at night, after all) I will not beat myself up (or at least not too much).
I am counting on you, dear readers, to help hold me to account. Please (please!) feel free to nag, cajole and demand progress reports.
b) I will venture again into some of the business opportunities attached to having a series of books. I've written before about my pursuit of filmed versions but really, using the word 'pursuit' is hardly appropriate to what feeble efforts I've made. Like the writing, finding interest in the books won't happen on its own. I need to dip more than just my toes into the show biz water: I commit to at least going in up to my waist.
Whew. Bring it on 2014. Let's hope this is the year these writing resolutions stick.
Next week: Story Doubts Re-dux