Courting rejection?

March 8, 2007

Flush with some recent success at placing short stories in various journals, I have committed that I would work on the novel.

But I keep delaying…outlining, thinking up dialogue, working on settings, tone, characterization, structure, plotting, the list goes on and on. In the end, it’s all a tactic for not getting on the bus.

Reading Steinbeck’s journal, I realize I’m not alone in this. A writer I know recently commented that she fears not finishing her work: I fear not starting. Especially since I’ve had some things accepted, there’s a sense of not wanting to screw things up, not beckon failure and rejection.

Last night, I took out some of the index cards I’ve been using to outline the book. Time to pin them up above the computer and do it…write the thing.

This weekend, we made a quick get-away to Monterey. I was reminded of how relaxing the coastal drive is, and it was made even more beautiful by absolutely *perfect* weather.

Cannery Row and the various signs and images of Steinbeck all have a certain romance for me. I was excited because I picked up a copy of East of Eden, which I’ve only read parts of before. But, even better…I bought something called The East of Eden Papers…essentially it’s Steinbeck’s personal letters to his editor at Viking Press, along with his musings and notes about the craft of writing.

I started the Papers last night, and was blown away. Steinbeck was, of course, a truly talented writer, but this glimpse into his preparation and practice of writing is fascinating! It’s almost like a writers-workshop…but infinitely better because he never intended that it be made public.

I’ll post more about Steinbeck, I’m sure. Reading his work and his thoughts on his work is inspiring.

Dreamstorming.

March 2, 2007

I’ve taken to brainstorming for 20 minutes every night: ideas, settings, dialogue, mannerisms, etc., for the novel.

Then, I go to sleep.

So, I’ve had some intense, vivid dreams these last few nights, leftovers from the brainstorming sessions.  I’m trying to capture these dreams in the morning when I wake up, but it’s not easy: we’re talking STRANGE dreams here.  I’m hopeful that I can glean something from them to help with the book.

As Thoreau said: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.

The hard stuff.

March 1, 2007

My kids’ pediatrician has a saying, “What is easy becomes hard.  What is hard becomes easy.”

He’s referring to things like having your baby in a crib versus letting your baby sleep next to you.  It’s hard to let a baby “cry it out”–but it becomes easier.  If you let your baby sleep in the big bed…that’s easy for a while (no tears!), but it becomes hard when they are big enough that they are taking up a lot of space.  Think about this concept in relationship to pacifiers–easy at first, but it can be hard to take a pacificer away from a four year old!

So, I’ve used this notion as a guiding principles when it comes to child-rearing.

But, I realize it has a place in my own life, as well.  From self-control in eating, to writing on a regular basis, to cleaning the house…what is hard becomes easy.  Taking the easy way out will eventually demand it’s payment.