It’s heating up. I’m actually writing. And calling myself a writer. And reading more. And reading about other writers. And reading about writing. And learning about publishing. And teaching myself to tune out the multitude of distractions that want nothing more than to consume our precious attention.
This week’s BIG observation is…
Writing is hard. Really hard.
The good stuff, that is. No matter what our chosen craft is, I do believe that inside, we inherently know what’s good and what’s terrible art. Beginners like me produce bad stuff, but somehow I know I have the good stuff in me. It just needs to be coaxed out.
The daily practice of writing is the only saving grace at this point. It’s still early and it feels really ugly to see the shit that’s coming out of me, but the fact that I’m doing it every day lends it a great deal of dignity. And upon that dignity I plan to keep trudging through the snow until I reach the cabin — the one with a light on and smoke billowing from its chimney.
I decided to up the game and write a novel during the month of July, under the flag of Camp Nanowrimo. It’s like the real NaNoWriMo (that’s NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth), except I can choose my word count (going for 32,000). Plus, “the camp” it feels more relaxed than the more serious and better-known session in November.
I know it’s only Day 2, but I’m struggling. I’m writing a story about a guy who, in tough economic times, leaves his wife and children to seek his fortune in Silicon Valley. Sounds mighty familiar, doesn’t it? That’s what actually happened to me, and I’m finding it very hard to separate my actual experience from the fictional experience I’m striving to create.
What makes writing so hard?
At the moment, it’s this:
Choosing a narrative voice
The Spirits of the Literati tell me to use third person past tense because that’s what real writers do (the schtuff that pops in my mind, I tell you…), but I’m inclined to use first person present tense. Why? Because it’s easier to write as if the story really happened to me, which it did. But there’s a problem with this — it becomes too personal; more like expository journal writing disguised as cheap, flimsy cardboard fiction.
I did some research and found three popular fiction books which use first person narrative: Eat Pray Love; The Hunger Games (reading that now; amazing!); and Silver Linings Playbook.
Let’s see how that pans out.
Yep, I am having a hell of a time trying to write beautifully. The prose feels choppy, linear, mundane. I go from one scene to another, dragging the so-called characters with me through the dirt. I don’t lie to them, either: they know it’s dirt.
Yet … I know it’s all in there.