Now is Not the Time to Write

What was I thinking? I actually said out loud to some people that I thought finishing a draft of this thing over the Christmas break was possible. Likely, even.

Apparently I was not thinking about Christmas at that moment, or of how my body always gives in to exhaustion over break, or of the kids  being out of school, or of how hard writing is in general.

I did spend quite a bit of time with the manuscript over the break, mostly cursing it, my need to write it, all the writers who have successfully written and published books before me, my father, and the people chattering around me at Wegmans while I was trying to write.

When I wasn’t cursing, I was writing a sentence or two at a time slogging along at a maddening pace. I did not get many new words down, but I attribute that partly to the fact that I’ve been stuck at a really important scene that is painful to remember and write about, but which I did, finally,  finish.

The other thing in my way is my inability to step back and see the whole of the story. I am repeating myself a lot, I fear–using a certain scene to illustrate some aspect of my relationship with my dad, and then realizing that I’ve already used it in one of the finished essay chapters. It’s frustrating. Repetition is to be expected to some degree in memoir, I imagine, but it’s hard to know how much is too much.

What I need is a wall-sized bulletin board like I had at VCCA, and 5×7 cards that plot out the progress of the book. I don’t have that, but I can print every word I’ve written and read it, making those note cards as I go. This will be tedious, structural work, but I think it’s necessary before I can do much more writing. I’m hoping to get some residency time somewhere this summer, and I’d rather have this stuff done before that, so I can focus on completing the story.

Now that the spring semester has begun, and I have taken on an extra class, I have no idea how much time I’ll have to work on this at all. I should simply reserve one of my off-teaching days for writing, but life usually spills into that space. I need to be better at staying consistently engaged with it, though. Even if only a few minutes, a few words a day.

So if you see me on Facebook more than usual, in the next few months,  feel free to give me a gentle nudge back over here!

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