Friday, July 13, 2012

Blogging and writing

I've been blogging for six years now, almost to the day. Sometimes I find it addictive, like having someone to talk with about the things I find important. But many days, I feel my blog lapses into trivia, sort of "what I did today." A flattering email from the director of a small academic press, suggesting a book of blogs, sent me to looking at some back blogs. I knew the one I did just this week on religion and politics had legs, even if controversial--some people think I should just shut up. But I found others with substance, and the idea began to take shape. I asked if he meant to include my food blog, Potluck with Judy, and he kind of left it up to me. So I'm thinking a two-section collection, with some from each blog. It would take me forever to put that together, and it won't be tomorrow because I've honestly started writing--again--on that fourth Kelly O'Connell mystery.
I have a friend who is writing a memoir. She did everything she could to avoid working on it--laundry, cleaning house, washing windows (well, I don't know about that). Someone suggested she write a letter, "Dear World, I'm sorry I didn't write that book. I was busy doing the laundry." So she set aside two- or three-hour blocks of time, maybe once or twice a week, during which she would write--period. One day she wrote for a while and ran dry, but she was determined to sit there. So sit there she did, staring into space. Oh, it's so easy to give others advice. "Write through it," I said. "Just write, don't worry about what. Just put words on paper. You can edit later."
We never take our own advice. I've distracted myself with editing someone else's manuscript, blogging, writing guest posts for other people's blogs, e-mailing, and reading. But this week I'm back to it, and I'm trying to set a goal--2,000 words a day. If they are meaningless trivia, so be it. I sort of know how this novel is going to work out, but at 20,000 words the end seems so far away that I'm afraid to introduce some of those final elements--or even the building-tension ones--so early. Then what will I do? On the other hand, if I'd go ahead and do that, perhaps my characters would lead me in other directions, and I'd find it all works out.
I know writers who spend four, five, six hours a day at their computers--without even the distraction of e-mail. Would I were such a one. When people ask when I write, I say, "Whenever I can fit it in." That would be easier if I were reclusive by nature, but I'm not. I usually spend Mondays at home all day, so by Tuesday I'm ready for social life. This week I've had lunch with friends two days, happy hour one night (on my porch), and supper out three--if you count tonight when I went to Jordan's potluck (which she had left Christian to host while she went to Jamaica on business). Pizza was the order of the day, so I took an appetizer, had a glass of wine and visited, and came home for my own supper of smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato--and raspberries and chocolate for dessert. But tomorrow night a friend is coming for supper, and Sunday, Christian, Jacob, and I will eat together.
And then there's the domestic side: I love to cook. So sometime this weekend, I want to pickle some vegetables. That definitely did not intrigue Christian, who is not a vegetable person. But I bought broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, summer squash, and green beans today--plus a cucumber to refresh my stock of marinaed cucumbers. For the others, I think I'll sprinkle in a bit of pimiento just for color (I'm not a fan, but I do like pimiento cheese, especially Palmetto) and instead of pickling spices, I'll use Italian herbs.
I won't even mention reading. But I think it was Stephen King who said if you don't have time to read, you don't have time or the ability to write--something to that effect.
I am reminded of Anne Lamott's book, Bird by Bird. Every writer should read it--to me the basic advice is to put one word after the other, though I also value her thought that we should worry about character not plot. Wonder if I could find that on my bookshelves to give to my memoir-writing friend.

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