Enjoy the ride

Mazatlan Diver Sequence

Note: this is a rather long Note To Self that I wrote. It occurred to me that there might be others out there also going through this, so I figured I might as well publish it.

US Navy 031205-N-2306S-002 Ensign Megan Barnett completes a diveIt seems to me this is the best way to approach this business of making things up and writing them down. You send your stories off into the world, and if you want to remain a reasonably sane human being, you get on with writing the next thing and don’t burden yourself with visions of dollar signs dancing in your head.

Someone bought the book? Terrific. Go on with the next story.

No one bought the book today? Whatever. On with the next story.

So my resolution for today is not to worry whether my books make a splash or bellyflop. On with the next story.

I was going to write a book for Nanowrimo this year. Set up my Nano page with the book’s cover and its title. Then promptly on November 1st, I got hit with a lightning bolt of a new idea. I had to write it. The goal for Nanowrimo is to write 50,000 words of a new novel in a month. I passed that in two weeks. That’s the problem with lightning bolts: they dazzle you so you cannot see any other stories.

Now I’m in the dull part of writing. I’ve got all the scenes down on the page, but I have to put them in order and make sure they flow one to another. This part of the process takes a lot of chocolate. Especially at this time of year, when all I want is to curl up and ignore the fact that it’s dark at 4:30 in the afternoon.

Albert_Bierstadt_-_Winter_landscape

How do you cope with this time of year? Chocolate? Chestnuts roasting on an open oven?

Quote: Martha Graham on Satisfaction

Dancers-Campbell-Moore-A

There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it.

It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.
-Martha Graham

A dark and stormy life

Rembrandt Christ in the Storm on the Lake of Galilee

The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.
-Vincent Van Gogh

Sometimes, we have to go through storms. I have to remind myself that storms and upheavals are a necessary part of life.

One thing I’ve learned over this process of changing from a hermit to a published author is that you can feel as if you’re on a ship in the middle of a storm. The waves toss you up and then you plunge down into a maelstrom. Over and over again.

Not much to be done about it, apart from stocking up on Dramamine. Just something to be aware of. The alternative is going back into my hermit cave and quitting. That might be more comfortable, but I don’t think it would be nearly as interesting a life.

I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to protect myself from exactly this situation. And you can’t do it ! There’s no home safe enough, there’s no country nice enough, there’s no relationship secure enough; you’re just setting yourself up for an even bigger fall and having an incredibly boring time in the process.
French Kiss

Successful Failure

It’s a great myth that creative geniuses consistently produce great works.

They don’t. In fact, systematic analyses of the career trajectories of people labeled geniuses show that their output tends to be highly uneven, with a few good ideas mixed in with many more false starts. While consistency may be the key to expertise, the secret to creative greatness appears to be doing things differently—even when that means failing.

An article in Scientific American discusses the research that Dean Simonton has done on creative people. People who are highly creative are not inevitably more successful than anyone else. Unless they create a lot.

Simonton’s extensive analysis of geniuses found two major factors to be critical in explaining the creative process of geniuses. First, creative geniuses simultaneously immerse themselves in many diverse ideas and projects. Second, and perhaps even more important, they also have extraordinary productivity. Creators create. Again and again and again. In fact, Simonton has found that the quality of creative ideas is a positive function of quantity: The more ideas creators generate (regardless of the quality of each idea), the greater the chances they would produce an eventual masterpiece.

Copy of “Some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in whic

The Constant Companion

I eat doubting,
work doubting,
go out to a dubious cafe with skeptical friends.
-Jane Hirschfield, My Doubt

I am hacking my way through the revisions to Geoff and Lia’s story. Revisions are like housework; I would much rather be doing something else, but once I’m done I am glad I did it.

Anne Anderson05The difference, of course, is that when I’m sweeping the floor, I rarely question whether I’m doing it right.

Perhaps this is a character flaw. Maybe I’ve been sweeping wrong all this time and no one told me.

But with writing, it’s different. I am slicing and dicing the text and then splicing it back together into a semblance of a smoothly flowing narrative. And at each step along the process, doubt is right there with me, a constant companion who questions everything.

I’ve decided that doubt is part of the process as well. I might as well sit him down and make him a cup of tea if he’s going to stay around.