When I went to the library the other day to pick up “The Alchemist,” I was on a mission to find one of the books suggested by that website that sponsors the write a novel in a month project. Of course, that led me to wander the section about writing by writers.
I picked up a book by Elizabeth George called “Write Away.” I will admit that I’ve never read any of her fiction. (Although, I will pick up one of her books now.) She writes mysteries.
The draft that I’m working on right now (which matches the word count on the right side of this blog) is far from a mystery. It’s more like a fairy tale. A fairy tale of something I’d love to do. My protagonist is a female manager of a minor league baseball team. I’m sure that I will finish this first draft in time for my self-imposed deadline.
I’m also sure that it’s garbage.
And I’m not saying that simply because I’m hard on myself, which I truly am–especially when it comes to my writing. I’m saying that because I realize there are a lot of the flaws in my the story. More importantly, I realize the flaws in my strategy.
I will say, though, that I knew that about fifty pages in. I also know that this has been a fabulous exercise in just “writing away.” The idea was to promote discipline, which it has.
This idea has been in my head for years. And by some weird, cosmic twist, I met someone who pushed me to start (and finish) and who has provided me with a wealth of reading material to get it done.
The best thing is that I know what I’m writing next, which is where George’s book comes in.
From landscape development (which was my huge, tragic failure in this first book) to character development (which is shoddy but not awful), I now know what the definite flaws are in the story. Of course, that could serve well for a re-write.
All of this aside, the MOST important thing to me was in the final chapters of George’s book where she described the way that she became a writer:
…instead went on to get my teaching credential in English and, later, my master’s degree in counseling/psychology. As you can imagine, all of this took years. As you can no doubt diagnose, all of this constituted an elaborate avoidance device. I call it the Divine Dance of Avoidance, and its steps are defined by the following truths: One cannot simultaneously teaching English at the high school level and write novels, since teaching English well at the high school level is generally a twelve-hour-a-day job. Also, one cannot write a novel while one is attempting to teaching English at the high school level and work on one’s master’s degree in an unrelated field. Cannot be done.
I realized what my Divine Dance of Avoidance was last Saturday around 3 p.m. No, seriously. It is that important to me. The second I closed “The Alchemist”, I knew what the problem was. What the problem has been for 6–if not more–years.
It’s the reason I couldn’t answer the question about bliss. The reason I struggle even when I’m doing something I enjoy. And more importantly, it’s the reason I’m fully prepared to be “all in” if things work out the way I think they may.
So, hopefully, my blog posting tomorrow night will be titled “ALL IN.” And at that moment the Divine Dance of Avoidance will have ended and Divinity in Motion (which has been posted over my desk at work) will finally kick in.