now serving: writer in progress

As of today, here is almost every single thing I know about writing. -- Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

Fact: I have a hard time talking about writing. Funny, isn't it? Nevertheless: mention that someone wants to talk about what it's like to write, and you'll usually see me scuttling toward the corner.

I don't know why this is exactly. Maybe it's hard to have a clear, intelligent perspective on what you do every day? I'm too close to it? Whatever it is, I can't comment immediately on my writing, whatever's going on in my writing life right now... as a lot of people have found out, when they ask Hey, how's the novel?

Usually I look a little blank and stammer something out (I've been saying we'll see a lot) ... and probably convince everyone that I actually spend the week getting whooped by the computer at spider solitaire.

(Honestly, my acquaintance is super kind. Even when I don't have any answers to give them.)

So. When it comes to my daily work, I don't know how to talk.

The other thing I can't do? Teach. Teach anything.

Even with a new knitting convert, I squinch my face up and try to remember if you knit from right to left or left to right, and how you hold the needles. No doubt imparting a lot of confidence as I eventually pick up their work and try to remember how to do it.

For a little while, I was semi-convinced that I could get an MFA degree and teach writing. (I blame Seattle Pacific's awesome program. If I spend five minutes on that website, I get convinced all over again. Swoon.)

But the fact is, the only person I have had any success in teaching is ... myself. I am slowly learning, inch by inch, how to write, how to write a novel, and a sprawling novel at that.

Hence, this new blog feature! (I really was going to tell you about it...)

I've now been at this novel-writing life for over four years. (Whew... just saw stars. Ahem.) Four years!
And with four years of my nose against this particular grindstone, I've learned enough and covered enough ground that I might actually have something to say about writing and the creative life in general.

This is my answer, then, to talking about the novel and the writing life, my answer to that tiny little impulse to teach writing.

Every Monday, I'll have a little Writer in Progress post. I see it as writing notes to myself, things I wish I could have learned sooner, things I'll probably have to learn again tomorrow. How do you reconcile an impatient, left-brained girl to a slow paced, creative life? How do you write a novel, anyway?

I haven't learned everything, not by a long shot. But I have learned some. And this is it.

1 comment:

  1. Shelley WestenbroekAugust 16, 2010 at 9:45 PM

    Looking forward to reading about what you have learned! Maybe it will be easier to "write" about writing than to talk about it (I can't talk about it either). I have always told myself that I can't talk about it because I am a writer and I choose my words too carefully to be able to just spout them out when someone asks a question. But, I have never tried to write about writing either, so I am eager to see how it works for you!