This morning I got up an hour early, in order to write my two pages.
Ok, so I pressed snooze once. I was 12 minutes late getting up. Then I had to check on the bird and move him somewhere where Howie wouldn’t be able to reach him. Then I had to make some coffee, and a bagel. By the time I got back upstairs, I had blown a good 20 minutes.
Still, I sat down at my computer, next to the bird. I tried to focus. I tried not to succumb to the charms of the Internet.
I forced myself to open a Word document. Just start writing, I told myself. I felt pretty panicked, actually, as the clock was ticking away — only 36 more minutes, and then you have to get ready for work!
Last night I decided I would not try to continue the short story that has been stalled since May or June, and instead that I’d just write anything that came to mind about one of the characters from the story who is a little … undefined. I’d do a character sketch of sorts, no pressure, no worries on continuing the story just yet. I’d just write about this guy.
Still, the big empty Word document freaked me out. I had to convince myself it wasn’t too hard. Just write something. Anything. It doesn’t matter.
I wrote an awful, awful paragraph, with stilted sentences and boring constructions. I said things about my character that I didn’t believe myself. His father was a corporate paper pusher? No he wasn’t. This character works as an actor? No, he doesn’t. He lives with his mother?!
I resisted the urge to go back and delete and rewrite. I just told myself to keep going. Two pages. It was harder than I wanted it to be, and harder than it used to be, when I was writing more every day, when I wasn’t working. I am totally out of practice.
It’s really true, that to be a writer, you have to write. Every day. A week off, a month off…in my case, a few months off … You can’t be a writer and take a few months off.
I can’t be a writer and take a few months off.
In the end, I didn’t write two pages. I wrote a page and a half. It wasn’t good writing, and it wasn’t necessarily a part of a story. But it was something. And, just in those 470 words, I learned a lot about the character that had previously been mysterious. He’s still mysterious, but less so. I know his father was not a company man. I don’t think he lives with his mother. I know he values the spare, the sparse, even a Zen aesthetic; but he is lonely because of it.
These are things I didn’t know before.