Tuesday, March 27, 2012

TIME OUT

I am just begging for someone to ground me, send me to my room and put me in time out. "Time out" as a behavioral intervention for preschoolers is frowned upon and in many cases prohibited. But I believe for adults--mothers, teachers, therapists, and especially artists and writers--it should be implemented frequently and for long periods of time. The formula for "time out" is one minute for each year of the child's life. For me that would be 62 minutes of glorious peace, quiet and creative time. I prescribe it for myself about three times a day so that morning, noon and night I can hide away and get something created. Unfortunately I cannot self medicate so I am doomed to wait patiently until some physician discovers that this is the best treatment and it has only healthy and positive side effects.

In time out I could read quietly, absorbing poems like mist on my skin instead of gobbling them up without a chance to fully appreciate the rhythm and the message. I could set out my paints and brushes, spread out some choice images and create a mixed media piece that could be the backdrop for the poem I would write in that third time out of the day.

Send me to my room, please, and lock the door. Forget about me for a while so the similies and metaphors, plots and resolutions, color and images, can gather inside my head and array themselves in the most beautiful way. Leave me a fragrant mug of herbal tea, perhaps a small bit of dark chocolate, a CD of relaxing music and a scented candle. Set a vase of fresh lavender on my desk beside the notebook and pen. Turn off the ceiling light so the small natural light lamp on my desk creates a halo around me, sheltering me from the outside world, leaving me alone with my muse to explore and discover the next collage, poem or flash fiction. And if you forget about me for a while I won't mind. I won't even tell anyone. I'll be too busy writing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

GOOD DAYS/BAD DAYS

Progress in writing is like the weather, especially if, like me, you write in several genres. Sometimes there are sunny skies and the writing goes well, I am focused on a project and moving along at a good flow. For instance, Saturday was one of those days. I typed out several pages in my novel and stashed them in  a binder to await revision. Then I wrote one and a half new chapters in longhand in my ever present spiral notebook. I also made a few plot notes and created a new character. It was writing bliss.

Then Sunday came, and not so good. The weather itself was warm and sunny--a glorious day for winter in the northeast. The writing weather was a disaster. I did a lot of reading, got some errands accomplished and enjoyed the warm sun, but the only writing I achieved were my three morning pages--which I didn't write until 5:00 in the evening.

Not feeling very productive I ended the weekend grateful for what I got done on Saturday. Sunday night I made a commitment to make this a better writing week. If I can write three longhand morning pages I can certainly write three pages a day in the novel. I know I can do it. I've written many poems, short stories, essays and two completed novels. Writers have to stand on their past accomplishments in order to be confident they can continue to write. And, oh yes, the writing weather needs to be sunny and calm so the muse will show up.

PROMPT FOR TODAY
What writing commitment will you make this week.

Monday, March 12, 2012

WRITING AT 30,000 FEET

I discovered a writing secret on my recent trip to LA. In the 757 aircraft the pressure equalizes, the lights dim, and the white noise of the engines is so loud it feels like it's coming from deep inside my own body. I've heard the safety instructions, eaten my take on board lunch, since sandwiches on the plane are too costly, and I've drunk enough water to keep me from getting a dehydration headache. I have also read several chapters in the novel I brought along on vacation and listened to Adele's album on my i-pod. There are several hours left of this cross country flight.

I take out the spiral notebook I am using to write first draft chapters of my novel and here is where the secret reveals itself. Stuck in the plane at 35,000 feet about mountains and streams, nestled into the narrow, even for me, seat of the plane, strapped to my seat with few distractions, the story comes to me like a film on a 3-D screen. My characters' voices speak in my head, the movements shift in my inner vision and their conflicts spark a flow of writing I don't often find at home.

In my writing room at home I can find all kinds of diversions from writing. I can go get a snack or a drink, pick up a book, check email or writing websites, go outside and take a walk, or sit on the couch sharing a pot of tea with my husband. But up here above the clouds all I can do is write. Twelve pages of longhand drama flow from my pen. Conflicts resolve and new ones are born. My main character chooses to follow a path I never expected she would turn down. The writing comes easily, albeit rough and in need of revision, and I have another chapter done.

On the return flight back to New York I finish ten more longhand pages. I do some revision on chapter two so I can read it at my writing group meeting this week. It's a writing miracle. As the plane makes a smooth landing, I land another critical plot turn and close the notebook. I feel prolific and successful. If only I could travel cross country every day this novel could be finished in record time. But I take what I can get and I'm thankful for a safe flight and some uninterrupted writing time.