Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Getting it down on the page

If you’re a “real” writer you sit down to write every day at the same time, without fail and you write for a few hours. This is the common wisdom. This is what we all must do if we’re to give ourselves the time to practice our craft. These are The Rules.

Is this my current practice? No. Was it my practice while I was working towards my MFA? No. Do I consider myself a writer? Yes.

I write when I can. Often I’m inspired ZAP! A new idea! But it’s midnight and I have children who will get me up in a few hours so I make a note and I get to it later. Sometimes I have time and I don’t feel like looking at that little note so I read instead or go for a run or clean a bathroom. And sometimes I’m kicking around that notion I memorialized in my notebook and I find an hour here and there over the course of a week—little bits and pieces in fits and spurts and then: Woah. It all stalls and I think, I am no writer. I am a fake. This is all bullshit.

So I read again. I read T.C. Boyle’s carefully crafted-almost stream of consciousness The Women, and then read Danzy Senna’s fabulous new collection of short stories, You Are Free, and suddenly I am inspired and I'm at it again. I am free and flying and the hours I find to write thunder past and I am forlorn when my time runs out. But I’ll be back. Maybe not tomorrow or the next day, but I’ll certainly get back to it.

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What's your writing schedule like? What reading material has inspired you lately?

5 comments:

Want Chyi said...

Hey, Kate! I just started You Are Free today. It's great to know others love it.

Kate G said...

Cool! There is actually one story I actively dislike, but several others I adore so...enjoy!

Steven Ramirez said...

Great post, Kate. Thanks for this. Too many times is the "same time, same place, no exceptions, ad infinitum" preached and preached by capital-W Writers that you'd swear if you don't have a set-in-stone routine then you're doing it wrong.

I blame Flannery O'Connor, but ANYHOO...I've read The Women. Not a fan of the footnotes. Will have to check out this other collection.

Steve

Want Chyi said...

I like your follow-up comment, Kate. I always find it promising when someone else likes a book I've just started, but now that I'm further in, I can see why your review is mixed. I'll likely ask you which story you actively diliked when I'm finished...

Kate G said...

Steve: I hear you on "The Women" citique: I am so over footnotes in fiction! I hold David Foster Wallace and Dave Eggers personally responsible for the decade-old craze. Enough!

Want: Definitely--we can chat about which ones we each liked best.