Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writing well

I've been up since about 1 AM. I don't have insomnia. I just went to bed early because I'm trying out something I read in I'd Rather Be Writing by Marcia Golub about schedules and scheduling time to write. With one book contract and two other books in contract negotiations I needed to find a way to make better use of my time since I have a job that takes up a huge chunk of my time. The idea is to stick to a schedule for seven days and see if things aren't better and I am more productive. I have to admit I'm writing more and that's a good thing, but that little boost of confidence and energy came from a task I completed this weekend past. I did something I haven't done in a couple years; I entered the Writers Weekly 24-hour short story contest (short as in less than 1000 words). From noon (central time) on Saturday to noon on Sunday you have 24 hours to write a short story based on the prompt they email on Saturday. I am very pleased with the results and I came in just under one thousand words with a story that has a beginning, middle and satisfying end but leaves room for a longer story if I decide to go on with it--and maybe another novel. It wasn't what I first started plotting but what I came up with is better and not quite so mundane. At any rate, I'm still working out the kinks in this schedule thing.

I've decided to split up my working day because I can't sit still for eight hours straight, even with a break for lunch and going to the bathroom. I feel antsy and uncomfortable. So, I decided to work from 4-8 (yesterday it was 5:30-9:30), take a break until 1 or 2 PM and then work another 3.5-4 hours. In between times I'd shower and eat and run errands--and I'd write or work on writing projects, like marketing and proposals and submission. So far so good, except I decided to go to bed early last night and woke up at 1. Instead of getting to work I felt like writing. Something kept cycling in my mind that started in the shower and wouldn't let go, so I went with it. It's more a stream of consciousness, but I know from what happened this weekend that it's a process that works for me.

I started with an idea, a prompt of sorts (in this case Ivory soap), and I let it take me down memory lane to all the associations it brought up. I was surprised at some of the things that came out of that little freewriting session (something else I do on occasion--mostly in this journal). I had forgotten one of my cousins was married to Bill Howard who is the younger brother of Frank Howard who lived in a big stone house plucked right out of the medieval English countryside, complete with turret, that sat on the corner opposite Schiller Park in German Village in the Brewery District.

We lived in German Village just one block east of the park for a while. I went to Armstrong School just around the corner from the house my grandparents owned. We had just come back from Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and were on our way to Panama in a few months after Dad got things settled and found us a place to live. I was in the second grade and I walked to school and home on my own every day. I don't think I realized my Aunt Edith lived just a few blocks south of us on Reinhard past the Howards' house with the turret or that one day I would stand in Schiller Park as Juliet's nurse in Romeo and Juliet a couple decades later or ice skate on the pond in the winter after driving across the city with my kids just to spend time in that particular park even though Westgate Park was closer and much more familiar. There is something magical about Schiller Park and the brick streets of German Village where so many grand old houses live.

But I am behind schedule this morning and the stories will keep a while longer, marinating in memory and the senses they stir, until I take my morning break and dip my fingers into the writing well again.

That is all. Disperse.

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