Writing about writing

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Inpiration hits!!!

sitting around minding my own business

la la la

reading a bookmaxresdefault (1)

bam!

out of nowhere! an idea!

that’s a good one!

write that down before I forget it!

now, grab my computer and check to see how many other books are out there with the same idea

oh, good

not too many! and what is available is by pompous know-it-alls!

I’ve got this!

gotta tell my bff!

yep! she agrees!

wait, better check one more place before I get started–amazon isn’t the only authority

shoot

there are actually great websites with the same information

*sigh*

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This thing called Writing

So….I’ve quit my job and writing is my game. Yippeee!!

Who invented this job?!

As I go about my daily chores, especially driving around, I am ON. My brain is working a thousand miles a second on what I’m going to write about when I can finally sit down at my computer and WRITE! Oh, yeah! I can’t wait! I am ready! Bring it! I have a thousand ideas and every single one of them is a winner! Bring on the computer and let the writing begin! Just one more errand and I can go home.

Computer charged.

Check.

Drink within reach.

Check.

Need to use the bathroom?

Done. And check.

Background noise.

Check.

Facebook notifications responded to.

Check.

Ready. Set. Write!

Go ahead. Write. You’ve got this. Remember all that stuff you were thinking about when you were doing your chores and running errands? Yeah! Go! Write it!!!

Where’d it go?

I don’t know! I’ve got nuthin’!

Do you remember that poem by Shel Silverstein where it talks about all the wonderful things a computer can do? And it ends by saying that I’ll have a book written just as soon as the computer can figure out how to write one???? Yeah…..

So here I am writing blog posts rather than writing my book because it’s easier to write a blog post than reaching for the ideas I had for my book. I’m hearing that I’m not the only one? Don’t you wish someone would invent some sort of way that whatever we think would automatically upload to our computers so those wonderful inspirations we have would be saved so we don’t lose them between then and the sitting?!

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Oh, the irony

Oh, how I have longed for the day to come when I had all the time I wanted to write and write and write with the intention of publishing. That day has finally come. And I am so very excited!!! It’s finally going to happen! All the stories I have already written can now be revised and be published–probably self-published. All the story ideas I’ve had percolating can be written and published because I have the time to write.

Oh, yeah!!!

And the nonfiction writing ideas can finally be put pen to paper–or hand to computer, as the real case will end up being.

I am finally getting the opportunity to live a dream.

And I’m stalled.

* What do I begin with? Revising something I’ve already written? Starting something new? An idea that I’ve started and re-started multiple times? A practice with self-publishing just to practice with self-publishing?

* Every time I sit down to work on a favored project, I find that I struggle while working on the computer. I guess I’m going to have to begin by hand. I am fighting this part of the process because I know that I can type so much faster than I write by hand and it is easier for me to type. Besides, my carpal tunnel and my tendonitis are both acting up significantly, making it very difficult for me to write by hand at all. As a writer, I know the benefits of writing by hand when my gut tells me that I need to write by hand, but I also know that my hand just hurts. I guess I’m just going to have to grin and bear it and/or write in short spurts.

* Do I go ahead and work on getting an agent or do I focus on self-publishing first? I simply cannot decide!!!

* Should I create a daily schedule for myself? A part of me feels like I ought to create a daily schedule but then another part of me thinks that’s just silly. Maybe I should just try it and see how it goes. It can’t hurt to try it.

* I want to go through all the books we brought home my office, but I don’t have anywhere to put them yet, so that’s not a good idea–yet. I just want to play with them! LOL.

I am ready to write and write! I just have so much I want to do and it’s making me feel a little discombobulated and overwhelmed, but I’ll figure it out!

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NaNo Dilemma Resolution

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For the first time since I started participating in NaNoWriMo, I have “cheated.” I wrote 50,000 words, but only about 20,000 of them have anything to do with my story. In spite of the fact that I did not win NaNo in regards to writing a story with 50,000 words, I have won because I finally wrote the story that has been swirling around in my head for more than 30 years!

As I share the plot of my story and the fact that it’s based on Judges 19 with others, I am extremely fascinated with their responses. Almost to a one, everyone tells me s/he does not remember reading this particular story in the Bible, everyone tells me s/he does not remember a pastor ever preaching on this passage, and everyone tells me s/he agrees that it is very difficult, if not impossible, to figure out why this story is in the Bible at all.

What makes the writing of this story that much more interesting than the typical story authors often write (even those based on other stories) is the fact that with every single person I have talked to regarding this story, we have had some absolutely fascinating and super interesting conversations. I cannot tell you how very much I love the fact that not only are people talking about Judges 19, but they are reading their Bibles!!!

How cool is THAT?!

Even more awesome is the fact that I know I am not finished with my own study of Judges 19. I want to find a definitive answer regarding WHY this story of gang rape and the cutting of a woman into 12 pieces is in the Bible. What is the purpose of this story? What exactly is God telling us?

Or….

Is it a complete mistake that this story is in the Bible at all?! I honestly don’t believe that it’s a mistake, but why don’t people talk about it?

Why don’t pastors preach on it?

Why do yearly Bible readers gloss over it and forget about it as soon as they’ve read it?

Why does the Levite treat this woman so callously?

Why does the Levite wait 4 months to go get her?

If, as many translations state, the woman/concubine had actually had an affair, then according to Biblical law, she would have been taken into the center of town and stoned. So then why wasn’t she stoned?

Or are other translations that refer to her as having become angry with her husband more of an accurate description of why she left him in the first place?

Why does a Levite, a man set apart as holy unto God as a result of his work for the Temple of God, have a concubine, to begin with?

What significance is it that we are told, several times, throughout the course of this story that there was no king in the land?

And, for heavens’ sake, why in the world does the Levite not only throw his concubine out to the men of Gibeah, but then he sits in the house with the door shut throughout the night?! Why doesn’t he DO something?!

And what in the world does he mean when he so casually says to her dead body at the doorstep, “Get up. Let’s go.”?

Seriously?

Am I the only person who reads Judges 19 and desperately wants to punch the Levite in the throat???? His concubine–wife–is GANG-RAPED all NIGHT by the men of Gibeah while he sits in the house with the old man, doing only God-knows-what!!! Of course it matters that the men of Gibeah wanted the Levite instead of the concubine, but the fact remains that it wasn’t the Levite they raped!!

And what about that old man?! He offers his virgin daughter and the Levite’s wife to the men of Gibeah because it’s such a shameful thing for them to want the Levite!!!!

Duuuuuuuuuuuddddddeeeeeee!!

There isn’t a single innocent person in the whole story, but yet, somehow, according to the fact that a war breaks out after the Levite sends the 12 parts of his concubine’s body to the 12 tribes of Israel, he (the Levite) comes off smelling like roses and the old man and his virgin daughter are completely forgotten–never to be mentioned again!!!

Do you begin to understand my fascination with Judges 19???

Do you?!

Winner-Congrats

NaNo Dilemma

As has been my norm for more years than I’m even aware, I am currently participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I love NaNo. I love writing. In spite of the fact that November tends to be one of my busiest months of the whole year, I seem to thrive on adding the job of writing 50,000 words in 30 days!

I started National Novel Writing Month November of 2017 excited and ready to go. I had my story. I knew exactly what I was going to write about. Way back when I was a teenager, I read my Bible through from Genesis to Exodus in a year for the first time. When I got to Judges 19, my mouth dropped and I asked every Bible reader I knew if s/he knew THAT story was in the Bible! I was horrified! I couldn’t believe that a story about men wanting to rape another man but gang-raping a woman all night to the point of death and then her husband cut her up into 12 pieces to send to the 12 tribes of Israel was a story in the Bible!

Seriously?! What was even more surprising was the number of Bible readers I talked to either had no idea that story was in the Bible and/or none of them wanted to talk about it with me.

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I was intrigued. This horror story has been on my mind for more than 30 years. Every time I read my Bible and I get to Judges 19, I’m still wondering why this story is in the Bible. I have read every concordance and Bible reference book and website and so on about this story. Not one reference work has ever sufficiently explained WHY this particular story is in the Bible. Many of them valiantly attempt to explain the WHY, but none explain it sufficiently for me.

Every so often over the years, I have attempted to write this story in modern language from a modern perspective. I probably have as many starts to this story as my current age. I have never been able to get this story out of my head. It haunts me.

So this year as I was preparing for NaNo, I decided that I was finally going to write this story that had been hounding me for so long. As soon as I decided on that topic, I had that place of “knowing” that writers (creative people) get when they KNOW they have hit on a great idea. It doesn’t matter whether or not anyone else agrees. The point is that the creator KNOWS s/he has found his/her Muse.

I decided that I would modernize the story and call it The Deacon and His 2nd-Best Wife. I love my title, by the way. 🙂 I added in details to the beginning of the story where it is slightly ambiguous regarding the concubine’s role as well as whether or not she actually left him because she had an affair or got angry with her husband. It all depends on which translation you read, so I felt that I had credibility in taking a bit of poetic license with the first part of the story.

Early in the writing, I struggled with getting started, but once I got started, the story flew out of my fingers onto the keyboard and on the screen in front of me. Because NaNo is all about getting words on the page and not about editing, I wrote my little heart out.

It is currently November 20. There are 10 days to go in NaNo. And I’m finished.

I am nowhere near the 50,000 words. But the story itself is finished. I’m even going to have to delete a large portion of the story where I overdid it when I go back and revise. But as far as writing the whole story goes, it’s finished. I managed to squeak out 30,000 words (or just under that), but that’s because I included with my word count many of the other writings I’ve done for other activities throughout the month.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. If a NaNo participant wants to “win” NaNo, s/he must validate a Word document with 50,000 words. That will get the participant the rights to wear a Winner’s t-shirt as well as a really cool certificate to declare him/herself a NaNoWriMo 2017 Winner, and the rights to some really cool stuff by NaNo sponsors.

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My NaNo dilemma is that I don’t want to keep writing just to get to 50,000 words. The story that I started writing on November 1 is finished. I feel as if I have accomplished exactly what I set out to do for NaNoWriMo 2017: I wrote the story of Judges 19 in my own words with a modern twist, focusing on the rape a whole lot more than in the original story.

I have “won” because I have written my whole story.

But according to NaNo’s guidelines, I have 20,000 words to go in order to truly win.

But I don’t want to write anymore because I have already finished my story. I simply don’t feel a need to continue writing specifically for NaNo to get to 50,000 words to win according to their standards. For my purpose and my NaNo 2017 goal, I’ve won already.

What do you think?

Would you keep writing to get to 50,000 words just to win at NaNoWriMo or would you stop writing specifically for NaNo (quit worrying about word count, etc.) and begin the “What now?” process?

I’d love to hear your answers.

 

Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages

Hi. My name is Polly Watson and I have an addiction. I am addicted to the works of Julia Cameron. I have read everything by her that I can get my hands on and I still have a ways to go. I am currently reading Finding Water, the third in her trifecta The Artist’s Way series. I have completed every writing prompt to the best of my ability as I have been able. I am trying to do the Artist Dates–I’m still not very good at them because I don’t do sitting still very well, but I’m trying. I am not taking the walks because I struggle with walking because of the pain in my back–and because of the summer heat.

I LOVE her idea of Morning Pages–writing 3 full pages on 8-1/2 x 11 paper immediately upon waking every single day. I believe every word Julia writes regarding the value of them and their validity in our lives. I do find myself enjoying the process as well as the simple act of writing–pen scratching across the page–each morning. I didn’t realize that I had so much going on inside my head first thing in the morning until I started writing Morning Pages! Only once or twice this summer have I had days when I simply had to force the words.

For almost 10 years, I have done Morning Pages off and on. I do much better with them in the summer than the school year. The problem during the school year is that I would much rather sleep until the last possible second, get up, and race out the door than to get up at least 45 minutes early to write my Morning Pages–in spite of how much I value them. I have completed them now every single day this summer so far. And I love writing them.

But that is most of the writing I have been doing this summer. I had all these wonderful plans as my school year came to a close of writing a LOT this summer on my memoir–of working diligently on getting it ready for publication–of sending out proposals and working on getting an agent…or getting it ready for self-publication if I changed my mind and decided to go in that direction. But I have not done any of that so far and here we are almost at the end of June.

I LOVE to write. I KNOW that I am supposed to–meant to–publish my story. I have dreamed of sharing it for years now. I even have a solid rough draft. I have my “Joy Regardless” blog that I write related to my memoir. I have enough followers for that to feel validated in following through with publishing.

So why do I continue to stall? What is the holdup? Is it only the act of writing that I love? The process? Sharing my writing is definitely a part of my writing goals, but I make no real effort to do so beyond my blogs and Morning Pages.

Maybe, just maybe, my blogs and my Morning Pages are enough….

…for now.

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Write SOMETHING…

As a writing instructor at the college level, I spend quite a bit of class time in all my classes (basic college writing classes as well as in literature classes) discussing with my students how even if they have no idea what to write [about]–what to say, they should just write SOMETHING–put SOMETHING down on paper even if that something is “I have nothing to say” over and over and over and over and over again. I have even told them to write their name over and over again if they couldn’t think of anything to write. The important thing, I always tell them, is to come to class with SOMETHING written–never come to writing class empty-handed.

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I spend a lot of class time discussing/lecturing my students on the importance of writing SOMETHING, of never coming to class empty-handed. I have stories of previous students who have written about sitting in their little red truck before class and writing about sitting in their little red truck before class writing because Mrs. Watson said never to come to class empty-handed.

I use the movie Quills as an example of how if the Marquis de Saad could find a way to write, they can find a way to write. (In the movie, the Marquis continues to write in spite of continually having his writing utensils–quills–taken away from him. He finally uses his own feces in his own desperation to write.)

Without always using the words “stream of consciousness,” I teach my students to write stream of consciousness style writing rather than not write anything at all. When they don’t know what to write, quite often just the physical act of writing sometimes helps them end up with a workable document. I am a firm believer that there is no such thing as writer’s block. Those who try to argue that they have writer’s block are simply looking for an excuse not to write–do what needs to be done.

When I was growing up, I was teased mercilessly that I had “dish-pan hands” because rather than doing the dishes after supper, I would disappear into the bathroom–until the dishes were done by someone else.

In other words, we tend to avoid what we don’t want to do and many of us don’t want to write. We put a fancy spin on it by saying we have writer’s block, but it boils down to the plain and simple fact that we just don’t want to write. (I didn’t want to do the dishes, so I used the bathroom.)

As my summer is beginning, I have been excited about the opportunity to have a summer of teaching online only so I can spend my summer writing. But now that the time has come, I’m blocked–apparently I don’t want to write.

Wait a second; let me clarify that statement. I want to write. I am having a ball writing in my journals–I have several and I have written in every one every day since the Spring semester ended. I am writing letters and emails and enjoying every moment of the writing. This is already my second blog entry for this blog of mine in less than two weeks and I have enjoyed writing each entry.

The problem is that I do not want to write what I had originally intended on spending my summer writing and working on: my memoir. While I have a really good draft, I no longer have any desire to work on it at this time.

What I do want to do is color. I have been doing a lot of coloring in my journaling Bible and thoroughly enjoying it. The strangest thing about my coloring, though, is that what I really want to do is just color a whole blank page with the same color.

And that’s exactly what I did.

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 I kept telling myself that I should draw something–I should use this really cool paint pen for something more creative than simply coloring a whole blank page. So I tried drawing a few sunflowers and writing the word “joy” over and over, but I kept going back to coloring the whole page. I colored four or five whole pages….no images…just colored the pages and I loved every second of it.

A part of me felt (still feels) guilty for “wasting” the ink in this cool paint pen with coloring whole pages rather than doing something more creative and artistic with it. The other part of me feels very satisfied with my coloring pages. There was something very cathartic about coloring whole pages with a paint pen.

It was my artistic version of stream of consciousness writing. In spite of our feeling as if we’ve wasted our time by writing a bunch of so-called gibberish or coloring a whole page the same color, there is great value in doing SOMETHING. Writing the same thing over and over again or coloring a whole page one color has great artistic value–because at least I’m doing SOMETHING.

No writing is ever wasted time.

No coloring is ever wasted time.

No ART is ever wasted time.

I wonder what Julia Cameron would say…..

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