Tuesday 2 July 2013

A Better Introduction (At Least, It's Longer than the First One)

I love writing. I've always wanted to write. To be a writer. To be a published writer. The published part hasn't really happened yet. Okay, if you don't include my winning entry to a poetry contest that was printed in the local paper 25+ years ago when I was much younger, the published part hasn't really happened yet.

I used to write daily, with an actual ink pen on actual made-from-trees paper, in a real bound journal. Lately, not so much. And by lately, I mean the last 6-10 years. Or so.

And lately, I've started wondering why that is. I came up with a few reasons, which made me wonder why I've started wondering why I stopped writing. Let's start with that.

I've started wondering why I haven't been writing because lately all I want to do is write. It's becoming a bit of an obsession. I need to write. I don't sleep at night because I lie in bed writing entire novels in my head. I stress out when my desk is messy because if I have a few minutes to spare I have to spend it on filing instead of writing (I'll get to why that's an issue a bit later). I daydream story ideas when I should be focussing on other things like what to feed my kids for supper (don't worry, they get fed). Basically, I have so many story ideas screaming to get out that my head just might explode if I don't start letting them out. Or I'll just go stark raving mad.

So, if I've always wanted to write so badly, why have I left it until the stories have gone beyond polite knocking to using a battering ram to try to get out?

1. Time. Or the lack of time. Or, the lack of priority.
I just haven't had the time to write. Or so I thought until tonight. Then I read a comment on another blog which lead me to this. It hasn't been so much a lack of time as it has been a lack of priority. I met a guy, bought a fixer-upper with him, sold it, bought property and put a home on it, had a kid, bought another house, had another kid, I have a horse that sadly needs some "time put on him", and I work full-time (unless I'm on maternity leave, in which case, well, I'm doing other things full-time, thank-you very much!). Sometimes, the priority is simply sleep. Especially when I'm so tired that sitting at my desk to write becomes a dangerous invitation to falling off my chair.

2. Guilty pleasure.
I have the unfortunate mindset of thinking of writing as a guilty pleasure. If there are dishes to be done, and floors to be vacuumed, and laundry to be washed and dried and folded, and kids to be entertained/dressed/fed/hugged/played with, and a husband to hang out with, and a horse who still needs to be trained, and a dog who always needs to be brushed and walked. and friends to be visited, etc., etc., etc. . . . Any mom can tell you: it's freaking hard to take time for yourself (although I have to admit that the horse thing can fall into the me-time category--which is probably why mine still needs to be trained to do more than look pretty) beyond the occasional bath (vs. shower).
  Now, I have to be honest about another guilty pleasure: reading. I love to read (this has enough to it to be another post entirely, so more on reading/books later). And, yes, there are times when I feel guilty doing it, but there are times when I can get away with it, like when I'm stuck on the couch nursing the babe for hours on end while the toddler watches Treehouse TV. Hello, Kindle.
  My reading-without-guilt time is coming to an end, though, so if I'm going to engage in a guilty pleasure, I may as well start writing.
  Bottom-line: I need some me-time. All moms do, whether they want to admit it or not. Otherwise they go completely nuts, of the mixed variety. Or, they're just not happy. I want to be happy, and I don't want to be completely nuts. I might be a little bit crazy, but I think so far I'm only cashews.

3. Technical Issues.
Without trying to date myself horrifically, I'm of the generation that learned to write by longhand in school; personal computers were just coming into the schools in the earlier years (and were really only used for games), and by high school, only a few kids handed in computer-printed essays. Most kids hand-wrote their essays, even in grade 12. The ones that did get to use a computer still probably wrote the essay by hand first and then typed it in for the final draft. That's pretty much me.
  Writing a "first draft" of anything directly on to the computer, therefore, can be a bit of a mental challenge. I actually find it harder. The thought of writing an entire novel by hand, though, only to then have to type the whole thing in afterwards, just seemed like too much work. It would probably be a kick-ass novel though because I can "second-draft" really well when I'm typing in something that I've hand-written.
  But at the moment, it still seems like too much work; wouldn't it be easier to revise in a word-processing program? Or would it? Sometimes I still like to print things off to do an edit, and I still like to at least lay out a story on paper (hence the issue with my messy desk). I like physical paper and real pens, I guess. Or maybe I'm just still a bit old-school.

Anyway, I need to make writing a priority, and therefore need to make time for it. I need to stop thinking of writing as a guilty pleasure and start thinking of it as a healthy pleasure. And I need to practice writing first drafts on my computer. Actually, I need to practice writing period.

And what better platform is there than to practice writing and to practice writing using modern technology than a blog? I mean, if I anyone ever starts following this, I'll have to keep writing, IE keep practicing, so I'll be held accountable should I ever stop writing. I'll also (hopefully someday) get some (hopefully constructive) feedback on my writing.

So, finally, we get to the purpose of the blog. At least, the purpose as it stands now:

This blog is a platform for my writing practice, and you are welcome to read it and to comment on it. There will be rants; there will be raves; there will be essays, and there will be fiction. And sometimes, there will be Verbal Streams.
  Rants and Raves will be quick-writes about topics that have inspired/excited me, IE I just write without too much editing, although there will be some editing/revision. Essays will be carefully thought-out ramblings about random topics. (Yes, that sentence makes perfect sense to me.) Fiction will be just that: fiction. It might be a scene from a longer piece, or it might be its own entity. It might be entirely made up, or it might be inspired by true events (so is it fiction, or is it real? I might not tell you). Verbal Stream just sounds nicer than Verbal Diarrhea; IE, the flow valve is stuck in the "Wide-Open" position and the Filter is probably missing.

Whatever happens, I hope that it's well written, and I hope that it's always entertaining, if not always funny.